WASHINGTON — In this disaster of a season, the Mets have managed to unearth a couple of gems. One of them shined Thursday night in a 3-2 win against the Nationals.
Lefthander David Peterson allowed one run in seven innings, the longest start of his surprise rookie year. He finishes the season with a 3.44 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, both second among Mets starters behind ace Jacob deGrom.
His best came last. In his final two outings, he allowed two runs in 13 innings. The 10-outing body of work presents an awfully strong argument that he should be in a 2021 rotation that for now has a lot of question marks.
"I wanted to prove to myself," Peterson said, "and everyone else that I belong up here."
And that he did.
"He’s shown that he was ready, that he could compete at the major-league level with the stuff that he has, with the poise that he has," manager Luis Rojas said.
Working with catcher Robinson Chirinos, who drove in all three Mets runs, Peterson scattered four hits and one walk, holding Washington to 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
That was enough to help the Mets (26-31) stay mathematically alive in their longshot postseason chances.
"We’re not totally out of it yet," Edwin Diaz, who allowed a run in the ninth, said through an interpreter.
Like shortstop Andres Gimenez, the 25-year-old Peterson has been an unexpected contributor in 2020. In a normal year — without a pandemic, with a minor-league season — both likely would have been ticketed for debuts with Triple-A Syracuse, candidates for mid- or late-season promotions.
Instead, the Mets turned to Peterson the first time they needed a fifth starter. He quickly established himself as more reliable than free-agent signings Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha and former rotation staple Steven Matz.
"He did everything we asked," said Rojas, particularly impressed with Peterson’s career-high pitch count (107) Thursday. "It shows who this kid can be for us."
Although wins are not a great measure of a pitcher’s effectiveness, Peterson will finish the year atop the Mets’ leaderboard in that category with six. DeGrom, who pitches Saturday, is next with four. The only other rookies to do that: Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Mark Bomback, Dwight Gooden and Dillon Gee.
Whether Peterson becomes a Koosman or a Bomback is to be decided. But he at least has emerged as a piece of the Mets’ near-term future, another first-round pick (2017) from the Sandy Alderson era making an impact.
Peterson hopes that impact is next week, not next year. If the Mets somehow sneak into the playoffs, Peterson would be lined up to be the Game 1 starter in the wild-card round Wednesday.
"[Rojas and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner] told me great job," Peterson said, "and said to keep ready in case there’s a shot and something happens."
Conforto done. Michael Conforto went on the injured list Thursday after trying to play through left hamstring tightness this week. The problem began Sunday and worsened Wednesday when he tried to beat out a grounder. Rojas said, "He’s at the position where he’s not going to be able to go out there."