As the Mets tried to ride the wave of Thursday’s comeback victory against the Yankees into the holiday weekend, manager Luis Rojas saw one big part of the club that has to improve over the season’s final stretch.
“It’s the starting pitching,” Rojas said on Friday before the Mets hosted the Phillies at Citi Field. “We’re looking for that consistency. [It’s] been one of our biggest adversities through this season.”
Rick Porcello entered Friday’s start with a 6.00 ERA. The 2016 AL Cy Young award winner was supposed to be the Mets’ fifth starter, but he’s basically the No. 2, at least until Seth Lugo can thrown more than 3-4 innings in his journey from the bullpen to the rotation.
The Mets started Friday in fourth place in the NL East and on the outside looking in at the NL’s expanded playoff picture. They had 22 games left, including Friday’s, before the regular season ends on Sept. 27.
“We have such a solid team,” reliever Chasen Shreve said. “We have the guys. It’s just putting it all together. I think we kind of started getting hot and then had the positive COVID tests and it kind of shut us down for a couple days. It kind of took the wind out of our sails type of thing. But we have the tools. We’ve just got to put it all together and I think we can. [Thursday] was a great victory for us and I hope we can ride off that.”
On Thursday, the Mets rallied from 4-0 and 7-4 deficits to beat the Yankees, 9-7, on Pete Alonso’s 10th-inning walk-off homer. It was a high point of the season, but whether it becomes the high point depends on whether the Mets can get better pitching from starters who are not named Jacob deGrom.
“That’s been one of the biggest challenges we have,” Rojas said. “Right now, it’s a real challenge because we need the length from our starters. The five guys that we have there now, that’s going to be a big key. We’re looking for consistency and every possible length they can give us.”
DeGrom, who will start against the Phillies on Sunday, has a 1.76 ERA. The rest of the pitchers who have started for the Mets this season have a combined 6.34 ERA.
Of course, the Mets were supposed to have Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz fronting a power-packed rotation. For various reasons, that hasn’t worked out.
Now, it’s deGrom, Porcello, Lugo, Michael Wacha and, mostly likely, rookie lefthander David Peterson, who returned from a stint on the injured list with four scoreless innings of relief against the Orioles on Wednesday.
Rojas would not commit to giving another start to Robert Gsellman after the converted reliever lasted just 1 2/3 innings against the Yankees on Thursday. Gsellman could help the Mets’ bullpen, which is short a quality arm after Lugo was moved to the rotation.
Lugo was only able to throw 39 and then 60 pitches in his first two starts. He’ll get start No. 3 on Saturday.
“Lugo is at a point where he’s stretched out,” Rojas said. “[Gsellman] hasn’t gotten there yet, probably where we wanted him pitch-count wise or innings-wise . . . That’s the one part that we need to be consistent as far as needing the length and quality starts. The offense has been good. It’s been solid. If we can diminish some of the outs that we make on the bases we can score even more runs. That’s something that we can also get better at. Our defense has been better. We made a couple of errors here and there, but it’s been better than it was at the start of the season. We’ve made some adjustments there. But the one thing I’m looking for is more consistency from our starting pitchers just to give us the length. The relievers, they pitch a lot. In a season like this, they’re being used a lot.”