New York Mets: Three pleasant surprises from the 2020 season

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WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 24: David Peterson #77 of the New York Mets pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

In another season without postseason baseball for the New York Mets, there were some positive takeaways from the 2020 season.

So, the New York Mets were eliminated from postseason contention on Saturday, September 26. In a season where over half of the teams in each league qualified for the playoffs, the Mets could never string together enough quality starting pitching, timely hitting, and sound defense to eke out a .500 record. By all accounts, it was a failed season for the team as a whole.

Still, it wasn’t all bad for the Amazins this year. The fact that MLB even got through the 60 game season amidst the pandemic was remarkable, which allowed several new stars to emerge in Flushing. Some were promising prospects who got called up earlier than anyone anticipated. Others were front office signings that (gasp!) actually worked out.

Either way you look at it, the Mets had a losing record in 2020, but there were a lot of players that were unexpectedly fun to watch. Let’s take a look at a few of those players that made the 2020 season a bit brighter for the Flushing Faithful. For the purposes of this list, I’m focusing on Mets players who either weren’t in the organization or were not at the major league level in 2019.

David Peterson

Before this season began, I wrote about David Peterson as a Mets minor leaguer I was excited about in 2020. Back in March, I did not expect him to be an integral part of the rotation, since at that time Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard were still expected to be core pieces of the starting five.

As dominoes began to fall from the Mets’ 2020 starting rotation, Peterson quickly moved up on the team depth chart. He made his first major league start just five games into the season against the Boston Red Sox on July 28. He was extremely impressive in his debut, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up just two runs while striking out three. Peterson was the first Mets starter to win his debut since Steven Matz in 2015, and became the first southpaw debuting at Fenway Park to last at least five innings in 18 years.

In his truncated rookie season, Peterson pitched like an experienced veteran. His control sometimes wavered, leading to traffic on the basepaths, but he made a habit of baring down with runners on base and getting key outs. In ten starts, he allowed more than three earned runs only once. His last outing, against the Washington Nationals on September 24, was his longest and best of the season. On that night, Peterson went seven innings of one-run ball to earn a victory and momentarily keep the Mets’ playoff hopes alive.

Peterson may not have the world’s most overpowering pitching arsenal, but he demonstrated mental toughness in his rookie season. He did what many Mets starters in 2020 failed to do; he limited the damage when it mattered most. All of this led to a 6-2 record and a solid 3.44 ERA for Peterson.

With the Mets rotation somewhat up in the air for 2021, Peterson figures to have earned a spot in next year’s starting five with his admirable performance this year.

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