The Mets are going to need to add some starting pitchers in 2024. David Peterson, who is getting a chance to finish the season in the rotation, is trying to force his 6-6 frame into the picture as if to say, “Hey, look at me!”
“I didn’t envision myself growing up being a depth piece,” Peterson told Newsday on Friday before the Mets lost to Atlanta, 7-0. “I want to be a staple in a rotation. I love being here. I want to be a part of this team and this organization as we kind of change and move forward.”
Peterson, who will turn 28 on Sept. 3, started 2023 as exactly what he doesn’t want to be: a depth piece. He twice spent part of it in a place he didn’t want or expect to be — Triple-A Syracuse.
And he will end it in the place he desperately wants to be — the Mets’ rotation.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve kind of done the last couple of years. Don’t really know what it’s going to look like [going into 2024].”
Along with Tylor Megill — Friday night’s starter against Atlanta — Peterson was starting pitcher No. 6 or 7 going into the season.
You may have heard the Mets’ best-laid plans didn’t quite work out. Jose Quintana was injured in spring training. Justin Verlander went on the injured list before the second game of the season. Peterson started it and allowed one run in five innings in a 2-1 loss to Miami.
Now Verlander and Max Scherzer are gone, traded away along with huge bags of cash to acquire prospects. Mets executives and fans are excited about all of the young talent, but no one truly knows how any of them will turn out.
Peterson is a great cautionary tale about just that subject.
He was the Mets’ first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2017 draft, a tall, projectable lefty out of the University of Oregon. MLB.com ranked him as the team’s second-best prospect in 2018, behind only infielder Andres Gimenez, and two spots ahead of a power-hitting first baseman named Pete Alonso.
Peterson reached the majors in 2020 and went 6-2 with a 3.44 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) in that COVID-shortened season. Pencil him in for 30 starts a year as an inexpensive rotation “staple,” right?
But that’s not what happened. Peterson went 2-6 with a 5.54 ERA in 2021, bounced back to go 7-5, 3.83 in 2022, and then couldn’t hold a spot in the majors this season despite being in the rotation for the first month.
On May 16, Peterson was sent to Syracuse for the second time in 2023. It was well-deserved. He had a 1-6 record and an 8.08 ERA.
When he returned on June 27, Peterson threw six shutout innings against the Brewers. Two short but OK starts were followed by a shift to the bullpen, where Peterson was effective enough to get his ERA under 6.
Then came the teardown trades of Verlander and Scherzer and the opportunity for Peterson to re-enter the rotation. The first two outings were short — shorter than he would have preferred — as the Mets are building him back up to a starter’s pitch count.
Peterson threw three shutout innings against Baltimore (52 pitches) and gave up two runs in 3 2⁄3 innings against the Cubs (62 pitches). Overall, he is 3-7, 5.61.
“I felt like I had more in the tank, which is encouraging,” said Peterson, whose next outing should be Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh.
Think the Mets have nothing left to play for in 2023? Peterson has a lot to play for. The Mets have two starters signed for 2024 in Quintana and Kodai Senga. You don’t have to be a math whiz to know that leaves them with three openings.
Peterson would like to — emphatically, finally, permanently — make sure one of those openings is his heading into next season. “I would like to give that impression to them,” he said, “as ‘hey, we’ve got a guy in house that can do the job.’ I think it’s similar to the past, which is every time I get the ball, make the most of it. Show them going forward I belong in the rotation.”