They say that starting pitchers thrive on predictability and routine, that the specific rigors of coming out every five days to throw 100 or so pitches are eased by mental and physical preparation. Pitch, recuperate, stretch, throw a bullpen session, jog, pitch again.
You can’t argue that all that stuff isn’t important. But lately, David Peterson has been making a pretty solid case for absolute chaos, too.
Not only did Peterson not know he was starting until Thursday — Chris Bassitt was supposed to pitch against the Rangers but landed on the COVID injured list — but he’s also been waiting for his wife, Alex, to give birth to their first child for the last week or so.
No matter: Despite two mistakes, he was dominant Friday night, matching a career high with 10 strikeouts as the Mets beat the Rangers, 4-3, at Citi Field to snap a three-game losing streak.
In his last two starts, both of which took place as he waited for the signal to rush to the hospital, Peterson has struck out 18 and walked none. He allowed three earned runs and five hits Friday and expects to go on the paternity list Saturday; his wife was due last week.
When he tells his son about his birth in the future, Peterson said he’ll mention the 10 strikeouts, “and I’m going to ask him what the heck he was waiting so long for, too.”
“It’s been on my mind this week,” he said, adding that he had someone with his phone during the game. “But my wife and I talked earlier and she gave me the assurance that we were going to be able to get through tonight. It could have been a possibility that I left today, but when I got here, it was all about the start.”
Eduardo Escobar had the big hit for the Mets, a three-run homer in a four-run fourth.
Peterson was rolling along nicely before stumbling with two outs in the third, when he misplaced a slider to Marcus Semien, who pulled it for a solo homer. The Mets, though, scored four against Glenn Otto in the fourth.
Mark Canha, who was riding an 0-for-14 skid, singled to left with one out to tie the score at 1. With two outs, Escobar unloaded, barreling a hanging sinker 417 feet to right for his seventh homer and a 4-1 lead.
Escobar, who’s hitting .223, came into the day 1-for-14 in his previous four games. He has been part of a wilting Mets offense that hit .232 in June and scored one run in a two-game series with the Astros this week.
“Nobody cares more than Eduardo does, almost to a fault,” Buck Showalter said. “And it’s well-documented what kind of human being he is. It felt like 25 guys hit the home run with him. That’s how much guys revel in whatever he does.”
The Rangers drew within 4-3 when Nathaniel Lowe homered in the fifth and Semien scored on Adolis Garcia’s groundout in the sixth. Peterson, though, bounced back from both homers, something Showalter said is a sign of maturity.
“I think it goes back to the mentality that I take into it, of the next pitch,” Peterson said. “When that pitch leaves my hand, I don’t have any control over it.”
And as it turns out, Peterson can do just fine even when he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next.