DENVER — It is easy to forget, after the Mets’ surprising summer and whirlwind run to contention, that when they acquired Marcus Stroman in late July, it was largely with a focus on 2020.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen had already declared that the NL East “came and got us.” The Mets were looking at least at one and perhaps three rotation spots to fill this offseason. Stroman, a Medford native and an All-Star for the first time this year, is not scheduled to reach free agency until after next season. And so the Mets added a local kid with a high-profile pedigree and got a jump-start on what could be a busy winter.
Seven weeks later, after a 6-1 win over the Rockies on Tuesday, the Mets finally are seeing the version of Stroman they thought they were getting, the kind of pitcher who would be an asset in their hypothetical playoff pursuit next year.
Stroman stymied Colorado for seven scoreless innings, scattering four hits and one walk and striking out seven. It was his best and longest start out of nine with his new team. In his past two outings, Stroman has allowed one run in 13 1/3 innings, lowering his Mets ERA from 5.05 to 3.86.
“I’m confident, man. I’m confident regardless,” Stroman said. “I can go out there and get hit around, but it’s not going to waver at all. I’m excited for my next start to keep this going.”
Specifically, Stroman is excited for his next start in part because he “figured something out” with his cutter. He threw that pitch 42 times Tuesday, according to Brooks Baseball, matching the highest total of his career. His previous game, Stroman threw 38 cutters, a significant jump over other recent outings.
The cutter mixes well with his signature pitch, a sinker.
“When you can criss-cross whatever corner you want to do that with, that makes guys pretty good,” manager Mickey Callaway said.
Stroman said: “I felt like I can throw my sinker and cutter in any count to anybody. … The main emphasis that everyone thinks about me is sinker, sinker, sinker. Any time I can get off the sinker, it’s pretty big.”
An added layer of impressiveness: This one came at Coors Field, a ballpark infamously unfriendly to pitchers. Stroman had never pitched here before this season, but now has done so twice, having also made the trip with the Blue Jays in June. He has allowed three earned runs in 14 innings (1.93 ERA).
“It looked like to me he was still getting a lot of movement on his pitches, and that’s not standard for most guys here,” Callaway said. “So he did a heck of a job. You could tell, his confidence is high and he’s getting on a roll.”
Rockies rookie righthander Tim Melville, who began his season with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League, allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out two, walked one and benefited from three double plays.
The Mets didn’t break through against Melville until the sixth inning, when Amed Rosario turned on a slider up and in and pulled it to leftfield for a no-doubt, two-run homer. Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso followed with solo shots
Alonso’s long ball — at an estimated 467 feet, the second-longest of his career — was his 48th of the season, giving him sole possession of the major-league lead. He is four away from tying the rookie record of 52, set by the Yankees’ Aaron Judge in 2017. Alonso is seeking to become the first Met and the first rookie to lead the majors in home runs in a season.
The win was the second in five games for the Mets (78-73). They improved to four games out of a National League wild-card spot — held by the tied Cubs and Brewers — with 11 games to play. Their elimination number is eight.
“I feel like we can rattle off some wins,” Stroman said. “I think we can get hot. I think everyone believes that. It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.”