Mets starting pitcher David Peterson pitches in the first inning...

Mets starting pitcher David Peterson pitches in the first inning against the Nationals on Monday at Nationals Park in Washington. Credit: EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Michael Reynolds

WASHINGTON — David Peterson, who was so solid in fill-in duty in the Mets’ rotation last year and who won a spot in the starting five with a strong spring training this year, may well have pitched himself out of that role for now.

He got crushed in a 10-3 loss to the Nationals on Monday, allowing six runs and nine hits in five innings.

Through eight starts, Peterson has an 8.08 ERA. That would rank last among qualified starting pitchers, but he has been so ineffective lately that he no longer meets the innings threshold to qualify.

With Carlos Carrasco (right elbow bone spur) expected back late this week, the Mets have not committed to keeping a six-man rotation for another turn. Peterson, brought back from the minors last week when the Mets needed a spot starter, would seem to be the odd man out. The other replacement, Tylor Megill, has been better, posting a 4.02 ERA.

The Mets, who are 20-22 and in fourth place in the NL East, haven’t won a series since April 17-19 (at the Dodgers) and haven’t won consecutive games since April 19-21 (when they won three straight). They have lost 15 of their last 21 games.

In a two-week stretch in which they played some of the worst teams in the majors — Detroit, Colorado, Cincinnati and Washington — the Mets went 4-9. They lost the first three of those series and split this one.

Now they’ll host a pair of AL playoff teams from a year ago: the Rays, who have the best record in baseball, and the Guardians.

 

“Sometimes you just go through bad times,” Brandon Nimmo said. “If you don’t come out here, you don’t execute, you don’t play well — it doesn’t matter who you’re playing in the big leagues. You’re going to lose.”

Manager Buck Showalter said: “There’s a lot of parts of it we have to put together. There’s not just one thing.”

Peterson put the Mets in an immediate hole, allowing an RBI double by Joey Meneses in the first inning, and was fortunate to limit the damage to a lone run, given the quality of contact the Nationals managed even on their outs. Then came two runs in the third, including one on another double by Meneses, and two more in the fourth. Dominic Smith added an RBI single in the fifth.

And it could have been worse. In the fourth and fifth, the Nationals (17-23) ended rallies by getting a runner caught in a rundown between first and second.

Peterson blamed his slider, which usually is his best pitch but lately has been inconsistent, and said he recently tried certain tweaks to his delivery that wound up not working.

“It’s one thing to throw a strike. It’s another one to throw quality strikes,” Showalter said. “You go back through his outings and there’s been a lot of balls in the middle of the plate. Major-league hitters are going to hit those pitches. You keep thinking he’s going to find his step and give you five or six innings and it just never happened for him. He’s not the only one.”

The Mets’ rotation has six quality starts, tied with the Royals for the fewest in the majors.

The lineup, meanwhile, totaled two runs in six innings against lefthander Patrick Corbin. Entering the day, he had a 5.91 ERA since the start of 2021.

The Mets’ best opportunity to tilt the game in their favor came in the top of the second, when Jeff McNeil highlighted a two-out rally with a tying single lined to rightfield, but with the bases loaded, Francisco Alvarez was picked off first base by catcher Keibert Ruiz. Alvarez said he took too big of a lead, and with the lefthanded-hitting Nimmo in the box, he didn’t see when Ruiz started to throw in his direction.

“I could hear [first-base coach Wayne] Kirby hollering back as the pitch is going to the plate,” Showalter said. “I like the kid a lot. The biggest thing is I don’t think it’ll happen again.”

The Mets have not hit a home run in 52 innings since Pete Alonso went deep in Cincinnati on Wednesday.

“I didn’t have to be aware of the stat. I watch it,” Showalter said.

Nimmo said: “It is difficult to believe . . . It is hard to win that way in today’s game.”

David Peterson's numbers in his eight starts this season:

W-L  1-6

ERA 8.08

WHIP 1.74

Opp. BA .329

Innings 39.0

Earned runs 35

Hits 54

HRs 8

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