Chris Flexen wasn’t thought of to be a part of the Mets’ rotational plans this year, but he’s learning on the fly and showing signs of improvement in each start
The New York Mets picked off their first win of the four-game series against Arizona on Wednesday night, a 4-2 triumph. What continues to stand out though is the starting pitcher, Chris Flexen is continuing to take steps forward after being thrust into a difficult situation.
And to think Flexen wasn’t even supposed to factor into the Mets’ rotation this year, sort of like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo last year. Things started off rough for the 23-year old as he posted a 12.00 ERA in his first two starts. Since then, Flexen has pitched deeper into games his last four trips to the hill.
Wednesday was his longest outing of his young career, encompassing six innings with two runs allowed. The walks are still an issue, and they popped up again in Flexen’s latest start. He has issued 20 free passes in 28 innings and has walked at least three batters in five of his six calls to the mound.
What Flexen has excelled at is pitching out of trouble. In his last four starts, opponents are just 4-for-22 off Flexen with runners in scoring position with three RBI. He was put to the test in that regard, early against the Diamondbacks and he handled those situations well.
The first two runners reached in the first inning, but Flexen got out with just one run allowed. Two innings later, Arizona had second and third with one out and Flexen escaped with no damage on the scoreboard.
What the last four starts have shown is Flexen looks to be a quick study. Once the rest of the league sees him more, he’ll obviously have to counter-adjust but this last handful of starts is an encouraging sign moving forward. He sped through the minors this season and skipped Triple-A to get to this point. To his credit, he didn’t let the first two outings on the road get to him and we’re seeing a more confident pitcher every fifth day.
Flexen is showing signs he could be a reliable option at the right time as well. There aren’t any certainties beyond Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in the rotation. The rest of the lot are going through a combination of injuries and disappointing seasons.
The next scheduled turn for Flexen will come when the Mets open a three-game series at Cincinnati next Tuesday. He will get an extra day of rest in between with the off-day on Monday.