PHOENIX – In this torrid pitching streak to start the season, it’s not just the brand names that propel the Mets.
Talk all you want about Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt and Carlos Carrasco, but David Peterson has joined Tylor Megill as the first gift to manager Buck Showalter. The Mets entered Saturday with a 2.07 ERA from their starting rotation, which ranked first in the major leagues.
Peterson, in three appearances (two starts), threw at a .64 ERA before being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday to make room for an additional reliever. He allowed a run over 5 ²/₃ innings on Friday in a no-decision game against the Diamondbacks. Megill will bring a 2.20 ERA when he starts Sunday at Chase Field.
Neither Megill nor Peterson started spring training as a projected member of the rotation, but injuries to Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker prompted them to start jobs.
“Competition can get the best out of people and these two guys took that opportunity and ran with it,” pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said. “There was no guaranteed job outside of spring training. It’s more of a credit to them and their work ethic and what they did during the lockout and they continued to mature as major league players.
Walker, who missed two starts with right shoulder bursitis, could return to the rotation this week. DeGrom, sidelined by a stress reaction on his right shoulder blade, will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine if he can start pitching. In the best-case scenario, he would return to the rotation at the end of May, having strengthened his arm.
But even if deGrom returns at the right time and gives the team a full roster of veteran starters, the Mets also realize there will be a need for Megill and Peterson throughout a long summer.
“In 2019, they had five starters in each start, but that’s so unheard of,” said Hefner, who arrived as pitching coach the following season. “Even if we have the original five guys at some point, there’s still a chance something could happen. You have to go seven or eight deep and we have maybe the best top seven in the league, so that’s certainly exciting.
The Mets moved up to 8th on the depth chart on Saturday, when Trevor Williams was scheduled to start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander was needed due to last Monday’s rain at Citi Field and the ensuing doubleheader on Tuesday. Williams, who was acquired along with Javier Baez at last year’s trade deadline, worked primarily as a reliever with the Mets. Last year, he started 12 games with the Cubs.
Megill started this season with 10 ¹/₃ scoreless innings against the Nationals and Phillies before giving up four runs early against the Giants on Tuesday in Game 1 of a doubleheader. But Megill persevered and went through six rounds without further damage. Last season, the right-hander threw a 4.52 ERA for the Mets in 18 starts.
Peterson, a southpaw, had a strong rookie season in 2020 but struggled last year before going on the disabled list in June with an oblique strain. Before he could return, a broken foot was discovered which cost him the rest of the season. He finished with a 5.54 ERA in 15 starts for the Mets.
“He kind of tweaked some mechanical things and moves a little bit better,” Hefner said. “When you’re on the IL and watching your teammates play, it makes you hungry and I think that’s true for Petey, because he wanted to be there with us last year, because we felt like we were on some things and then he got hurt a couple of times.
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