David Peterson of the Mets pitches during the first inning against Atlanta...

David Peterson of the Mets pitches during the first inning against Atlanta in the first game of a doubleheader at Citi Field on Saturday. Credit: Getty Images/Adam Hunger

If David Peterson is the Mets version of the spot starter, then they appear to be in pretty good shape headed into the season’s stretch run. Peterson’s services were called upon in the first game of Saturday’s double header against the Atlanta Braves, and he pitched more like an ace than a stop-gap in the Mets 8-5 win at Citi Field.

The 26-year-old lefty threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowed three hits, struck out five, and walked three in his first major league start since July 17. After two relief outings in late July, Peterson made one start in Triple-A Syracuse before rejoining the major league club.

Over his last seven starts, Peterson has a 2.39 ERA in 37 2/3 innings. He has 54 strikeouts during that span, the most by a Mets lefthanded starter over a seven-game span since Johan Santana struck out 60 in seven starts in early 2009.  

“It’s not an easy role,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said of Peterson’s rotation uncertainty. “It’s the same kind of thing that Trevor (Williams’) done for us. I think it’s a reflection of our club in general…When you go down to Syracuse, you’ll make some pitches where you’ll go ‘well, that wouldn’t work at the next level.’ I was really impressed with how he got after it in his last outing in Syracuse, which I though boded well for today.”

After the game, the Mets optioned Peterson back to Triple-A Syracuse and called up reliever Adonis Medina. The yo-yo continues.

“We have five great starters,” Peterson said. “(We) couldn’t ask for a better rotation. So being that sixth guy is something I take a lot of pride in. These games – double headers and when guys have gotten injured – it’s time for me to step in and make a seamless transition.”

Peterson found himself in immediate trouble Saturday afternoon, but wiggled his way out of it effortlessly He got Robbie Grossman to lineout to shortstop with the bases loaded to end the first inning, worked around a one-out walk in the second inning , and got Orlando Arcia to ground into a double play with runners on first and third to end the fourth. 

 

Despite the lack of consistent work, Peterson appears to only be getting better. He threw a sinker to Matt Olson in the first inning that touched 98.9 miles per hour, according to MLB’s pitch tracking technology. It was his fastest pitch of the season.

The logical question followed, was that reading real?

“I think so,” he said with a smile. “I mean, the gun said it is.”

For years, the Mets have been taunted by the prospect of unique starting pitching depth that never really materialized. That depth, often derailed by injury, might have finally arrived.

“He’s not in the rotation every single time, he goes up and down, but that tells you the depth that we have,” said Francisco Lindor. “…I’m glad he’s on my team and I don’t have to face him.”

But, sometimes, depth isn’t necessary at all. If all Met starters remain healthy for the rest of the season, Peterson’s logical big league landing spot is out in the bullpen. He said that he’s open to a relief role. It’s a scenario that Met decision makers have considered.

“I’m ready to take that job,” Peterson said. “…The goal is for this team to win and for us to reach our ultimate goal. Anyway I can help, that’s what I’m here to do.”