For the third game of the 2021 season, the New York Mets handed the ball to the southpaw David Peterson for his first start of the year against the Philadelphia Phillies in the final game of the series.
Coming off of an impressive rookie season in which he went 6-2 with a 3.44 ERA over 10 games (9 starts) and a strong spring training, Peterson enters the 2021 season as the number three starter, behind Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.
While expectations were high for Peterson heading into his sophomore year with the Mets, he unfortunately did not deliver in his 2021 season debut.
For the line score, Peterson pitched 4+ innings, giving up 7 hits (2 HR) and 2 walks, allowing 6 runs over 78 pitches, as the Mets lost to the Phillies 8-2.
While one bad start is by no means the end of the world, this was a less than ideal way for any pitcher to begin the season.
However, while this was a very messy start, there were a few bright spots observed as well, and if Peterson can build on them while correcting his mistakes, them he should still be a very effective pitcher for the Mets in 2021.
With all that said, lets take a deeper dive into Peterson’s start and review the both the big bright spots and blemishes we all observed throughout it.
Here are 3 big observations from David Peterson’s first Mets start of 2021
1) Peterson threw way too many pitches early in the game
It is often said that the first inning of any game can often be the toughest for a pitcher, and sadly, that was the case for Peterson in his first start of the year for the New York Mets.
Facing the top of the Phillies lineup, Peterson had a lot of difficulty getting out of the first inning, which is where he suffered the most damage as he gave up 2 home runs, giving up 4 runs total.
In the full breakdown, Peterson ran a full count to Andrew McCutchen leading off the game, before getting him to fly out to center. He ran a second full count against Ryan Hoskins next in the lineup, and he ended up ending the at-bat with a home run to right field.
Following this, Peterson gave up a double to Bryce Harper, a walk to JT Realmuto, and then another home run to Alec Bohm, giving the Phillies a 4-0 lead in the first.
Peterson would then go on to strike out Didi Gregorius before giving up another walk to Jean Segura and finally getting the no. 8 hitter Adam Haseley to ground out to end the inning.
One of the bigger issues I take away from all of this is that over the course of the 8 batters he faced, Peterson threw 38 pitches in the first inning. As previously stated, he ran full counts to the first 2 batters he say, throwing a combined 15 pitches to them.
Every pitcher gets roughed up, however, Peterson had issues going deep into games in his rookie year, which was largely due to the fact he was running high pitch counts early in games. Of his 9 starts in 2020, he only managed to get through 6 innings a grand total 3 times.
Beyond just trying not to give up runs, Peterson is going to need to work on getting through his innings more quickly by throwing fewer pitches in order to make it deeper into games.
While this is all easier said than done, if he cannot figure out a way to do so, his prospects as a starting pitcher may be limited in the future.
2) Peterson showed resilience and pitched 3 scoreless innings for the Mets
Building off of the first observation, while the first inning was rough for Peterson, he settled into a groove over the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings, pitching very effectively.
In the second inning, Peterson got to quick outs before giving up a double to Hoskins, but then very impressively struck out Bryce Harper swinging on 3 pitches. He recorded 2 more strikeouts in the 3rd inning and made it through the 4th inning in 3 batters, all with a relatively low pitch count.
Peterson made it through the 2nd inning on 13 pitches, the 3rd inning on 13 pitches as well, and got through the 4th inning on just 9, totaling 35 pitches through his 3 scoreless frames.
As stated earlier, one of Peterson’s biggest problems in his rookie year was running a high pitch count, and despite his messy 1st inning, Peterson managed to settle down as the game progressed, and did so in a very efficient fashion.
Not only that, after getting rocked like he did in the first inning, it is easy for pitchers to have their confidence rattled, however, Peterson managed to display plenty of resilience in the innings that followed.
In what was a rough start for the young pitcher, this was a very promising bright spot for him, and hopefully something Peterson can build off of as the season progresses.
3) Peterson managed to get several big strikeouts
On his line score, Peterson managed to record a total of 5 strikeouts over his 4+ innings of work, and when you break them down, it’s even more impressive than it sounds.
While Peterson is not known as a power pitcher like deGrom, with his fastball sitting in the low 90s, he throws very effective breaking balls, particularly his slider.
In the first inning, Peterson recorded his first strikeout on 3 pitches, all low 80s sliders, against Didi Gregorius. Leading off the second inning, he struck out Aaron Nola looking on a slider, before striking out Bryce Harper swinging on 3 pitches, all sliders.
In the third inning, Peterson struck out Alec Bohm swinging on a fastball, before striking out Jean Segura to close out the inning, getting him to strike out looking on a fastball after setting him up with a slider.
One thing I observed throughout his start is that Peterson was excellent at mixing up his speeds, with his slider ranging anywhere from 77-84 MPH, while his fastball sat in the 90-93 MPH range.
For someone who doesn’t throw particularly fast, the ability to change speeds so drastically is a great asset for any pitcher.
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If Peterson can improve his location with his pitches and continue mixing up his speeds, he will hopefully rebound from yesterday’s poor start and perform as an even more effective player than he was in his rookie season.