Grading the 2021 Mets' pitchers
In another disappointing year for the Mets, their pitching staff was a bright spot. Their 3.90 ERA ranked ninth in the majors (which is one reason why pitching coach Jeremy Hefner is remaining with the organization while most of the rest of the coaches were let go).
Here is a pitcher-by-pitcher look at how they graded out, in one writer’s view.
RHP Jacob deGrom: I
Is there another option here besides an incomplete? What a bummer. He had an absurd 1.08 ERA in the first half and didn’t pitch at all in the second half. This goes down as an all-time single-season what-if.
RHP Marcus Stroman: A
In deGrom’s periodic and then permanent absence, Stroman stepped up big time. He was tied for first in the majors in starts (33), ninth in ERA (3.02) and 25th in innings (179) — all after not pitching in 2020. That performance should serve him well as he looks for a long-term contract in free agency.
RHP Taijuan Walker: B-
Another tale of two halves, with a 2.66 ERA before the All-Star break and 7.13 ERA after. His true talent level, surely, is in between. The Mets shouldn’t plan on him being a front-end starter in 2022.
RHP Tylor Megill: B+
He began the season hoping for a late-season cameo in the majors and ended it third on the team with 18 starts. Late struggles inflated his ERA to 4.52, but he’ll be a solid back-end/depth option next year.
LHP Rich Hill: B+
His 3.84 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) was exactly what the pitching-needy Mets needed when they acquired him from the Rays in July. And he was consistently praised by Hefner, Luis Rojas and others for his wisdom and pitching/baseball knowledge.
RHP Carlos Carrasco: D
Injury and ineffectiveness derailed his first season with the Mets. His first-inning problems (13.50 ERA) were bizarre — and not something that he historically has dealt with. He hopes a normal spring training next year will lead to a normal year.
RHP Noah Syndergaard: C
The setbacks in his return from Tommy John surgery were unfortunate, leaving his workload (two innings) hardly worth evaluating. The greatest concern: Doctors recommending he not throw his signature slider for the year.
LHP David Peterson: C-
His bad sophomore season (5.54 ERA) ended in July when he strained his oblique and then broke his right foot. Group him with Megill as a back-end/depth option.
RHP Edwin Diaz: B
Three seasons after joining the Mets, Diaz has not proved himself to be an elite closer. He is a fine closer. The trust from the fan base will be something less than wholehearted until he consistently comes through in the biggest spots.
LHP Aaron Loup: A
The affable sidearmer became a fan favorite with his 0.95 ERA and postgame Busch Lights. Rojas called him the team’s second-best pitcher behind deGrom.
RHP Trevor May: B+
Like Diaz and others, he was a good-not-dominant late-game reliever, slightly worse in 2021 than he had been in years past for the Twins. Unlike Loup and Jeurys Familia, he is under contract for 2022, which helps give the bullpen some definition going into the offseason.
RHP Jeurys Familia: B
Walks (4.1 per nine innings) and homers (1.5 per nine innings) were a problem, but he ultimately was solid, posting a 3.91 ERA and earning his way back into some high-leverage spots. He is third on the Mets’ all-time pitcher list in saves (124) and appearances (469).
RHP Miguel Castro: B
He was so good early in the season, then struggled, pitching his way out of the circle of trust. Rojas wondered if he had overused Castro. The final numbers were solid: 3.45 ERA, 1.29 WHIP.
RHP Seth Lugo: B+
Something less than his usual excellent reliever self, Lugo finished with a 3.50 ERA after missing the first third of the season as he recovered from elbow surgery. Next season is his last before free agency.
LHP Brad Hand: B
After getting traded by the Nationals and cut by the Blue Jays, Hand actually had a 2.70 ERA for the Mets. But he allowed five of six inherited runners to score. The team eventually stopped using him in high-leverage situations.
RHP Heath Hembree: B
With Hand and Hembree, the Mets did well picking relievers off the post-trade deadline scrap heap. Hembree had a 3.45 ERA (and even a save) in 15 games after getting cut by the Reds.
RHP Drew Smith: B+
With a 2.40 ERA in 31 games, this was the 28-year-old Smith’s best season. But shoulder injuries bookended his season, rendering him something of a question mark moving forward.
LHP Joey Lucchesi: B-
He struggled as the Mets bounced him between the rotation and bullpen, got into a groove with a consistent starting spot, then needed Tommy John surgery. He’ll miss at least most of 2022.
RHP Robert Gsellman: B-
He had a 3.77 ERA, but a torn lat limited him to 17 games. He is a non-tender candidate.
RHP Trevor Williams: A-
His 3.06 ERA in 10 games was particularly impressive given his role — sometimes in the majors, sometimes in the minors, sometimes a starter, sometimes a reliever. Every team needs a pitcher who can do that, physically and mentally.