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Can This Mets Pattern Last

Luis Severino last night did what Jose Quintana did on Sunday. It was something no Met pitcher had done prior this season. Quintana completed eight innings holding the Cardinals to one walk and one run. Yes, those two things are related. Severino also allowed one hit and one walk through eight innings last night.

Prior to Sunday no Met pitcher had pitched more than six innings. Manager Carlos Mendoza and the Mets front office has not publicly mentioned concern over the lack of innings provided by the Mets starters so far this season. But you know they are nervous just like Met fans. This can’t last, can it?

After Quintana’s performance on Sunday, the Mets have the second fewest ‘quality starts’ (6 innings with 3 earned runs or less), in MLB, with a total of six (now seven) on the season. Through Sunday the Brewers, Guardians, Marlins, and Nationals each have five quality starts. The Marlins and Nationals are not surprising. The Brewers and Guardians both are first place teams and having so few quality starts is cause for future worry.  The Mets have the same worry. 

Nobody predicted journeyman Reed Garrett, (he has played for four teams in 4 MLB seasons), would have five wins to his credit prior to the beginning of May. It’s likely that Garrett will not put up five more wins in the remaining five months. Yet Garrett has been a revelation, and perhaps is the one player who has saved the Mets season so far.

Tim Britton wrote in The Athletic a very interesting statistic:

The Mets’ average win expectancy when their first reliever throws his first pitch is just .426 — yet New York has played .519 baseball, a difference of 2 1/2 games in the standings through the first 27.

Perhaps Carlos Mendoza should get a little credit here since if the Mets were 11-16 instead of 14-13 after this weekend, Mendoza would be under fire. The Mets appear to have found a good manager which is no small thing.

Starters Adrian Houser and Sean Manaea are not expected to pitch to more than 18 batters – twice through the opposing lineup. If either one is having a good game, Mendoza has shown he will stick with a pitcher who is pitching well later in the game as he did with Quintana on Sunday. Otherwise for Houser and Manaea to pitch past the sixth inning, they’d essentially have to be perfect. To boot, not much more than six innings is counted on from Luis Severino either although as least he’s done that twice so far this season as has the surprising Jose Butto.

The average MLB start length is less than six innings. Kodai Senga the Mets #1 starter is due back hopefully in late May. Senga averaged 5 2/3 innings per start in 2023. The Mets as a team had 60 quality starts in 2023 (37%). In 2024 they have six quality starts over the first 27 games (22.2%). Only because the Mets bullpen has been other-worldly, and has outperformed the highest projections, is the team keeping its head above water.

Houser is an interesting case since POBO David Stearns is familiar with him from his time in Milwaukee and brought Houser to the Mets as a result. Houser has recorded one out in the sixth inning of his start exactly once this season. His last two starts have been awful. Houser slots more as a spot starter and long reliever along the lines of what former Met Trevor Williams did for the team in 2022.

Because of injuries to Senga, Tylor Megill, and David Peterson, Houser is getting the ball regularly. I’ve written that Stearns has shown himself to be ruthless so far in his brief tenure leading the Mets. Demoting Houser, his hand-picked player, would indicate that trend is continuing. How much more rope does Houser have? The Mets play a bunch of games in a row and while it’s fun to think about bringing up Christian Scott from the minors, or even Joey Lucchesi, it seems Houser will at least have one chance to pitch starting vs. the Rays in Tampa on Thursday.

Sean Manaea in his last start was visibly upset with himself as well as not being given the chance to continue in the fifth inning which would have qualified him for the win. He had thrown 101 pitches already. Manaea knows he needs to go deeper into games and the key there is to pitch more economically which has never been his hallmark.

Reliever Drew Smith has had a better than usual start to his season but is now on the 15-day IL due to shoulder soreness. Brooks Raley has also had a great start to the season but also is on the IL right now. All the Met relievers are shouldering a big burden that will only get heavier if the status quo continues.

If the Mets are to have a successful season this can’t last.

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


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