BALTIMORE — he Mets might have a David Peterson problem.
He had his second stinker of a start in a row Tuesday night in the Mets’ 10-3 loss to the Orioles.
In 2 2/3 innings, Peterson allowed four runs and eight hits (five doubles). That raised his ERA to 6.32. Only one qualifying pitcher — the Reds’ Luis Castillo (6.63) — has been worse.
Combined with his one-out outing last week against the Diamondbacks, the lefthander has lasted three innings in his past two starts. His season average is about 4 1/3 innings.
Are the Mets committed to Peterson taking another turn in the rotation?
"Right now, I can tell you, right after this game, that he’s going to make his next start," said manager Luis Rojas, who acknowledged seeing more outward frustration than normal from the lefthander recently. "We need to get him right. We need David Peterson."
"Right now, I can tell you right after this game, that he’s going to make his next start," manager Luis Rojas said.
Peterson’s primary issue, according to Rojas, is a lack of command with his secondary pitches — especially his slider, his signature pitch that helped him post a 3.44 ERA as a rookie in 2020. He still throws it as often — one every four offerings — but it has been far less effective.
Last year, opposing hitters had a .119 average and .254 slugging percentage against Peterson’s slider. This year, those numbers are .327 and .633.
A partial explanation, via Rojas: Peterson doesn’t have a good feel for his slider because he has been working harder on his changeup and curveball (the latter of which he doesn’t throw in games).
"That’s his pitch," Rojas said before the game. "He shouldn’t have gone away too far from it. The reasons were positive, just because he wanted to expand his repertoire. But he can stick to his strength while he works on other things."
Peterson didn’t seem enthused about that theory, saying: "My slider has been more inconsistent than it has in the past. That’s something that we’ve been working on. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction with it. It just happens sometimes. You go in and out with a feel for a pitch."
The Mets (29-24) didn’t fare nearly as well against a lefthander with an ugly ERA. Bruce Zimmermann held them to two runs and two hits in five innings, striking out seven and walking two. That lowered his mark to 4.83.
He looked shaky early, allowing a two-run home run to Pete Alonso in the first inning. Dominic Smith followed with a hard single to center. But then Zimmermann settled in to retire 13 of 14 batters to finish his outing.
"We saw Zimmermann pitching backward kind of, using the slider and changeup in hitter’s counts," Rojas said. "That’s when we got in trouble."
The Orioles (22-38) blew it open while Robert Gsellman pitched. He escaped Peterson’s jam in the third — stranding two runners via Kevin Pillar’s diving catch on Ryan McKenna’s would-be single — but wound up allowing four runs in 2 1/3 innings.
The big blast came from Maikel Franco, a Mets killer during his Philadelphia days. He skied a three-run home run to leftfield to put Baltimore up by six. The ball traveled an estimated 423 feet and was just the sixth in the three-decade history of Camden Yards to land in the second deck. The most recent before then? Alonso last September.
The Mets finished with four hits (the Orioles had 16), including the two in the first inning. Alonso had a solo homer in the ninth. The comeback attempt ended there. "We had a good start," Rojas said. "We just didn’t follow up."