Mets Rotation: David Peterson must step up in Jacob deGrom’s absence
By Mason Smoller
For the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic, the MLB is playing a 162-game season. In hindsight, a month and a half into the season, nobody knows where every team will end up. Nonetheless, the New York Mets hope to stand pat atop the National League East.
Even with the early-season struggles of their offense, the Amazins’ have been carried by elite pitching. The bullpen has been good… actually no, they have been great to start the year. Yet it is the starting pitching that has led the Mets early on.
New York’s top trio of Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker, and of course, two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom have been amazing early on. Not to mention, they will one day be joined by Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard to round out the rotation.
Except, the Mets current starting rotation should be better than it has been. And given how great those three have been, eyes fall to second-year starter David Peterson.
Expectations high after an impressive rookie campaign for Mets pitcher David Peterson
During the 60-game 2020 season, the Mets saw the debut of top pitching prospect David Peterson. The 6’6” and 240-pound southpaw wound up being one of the few bright spots in an underwhelming pandemic-riddled season.
The former Mets top 10 prospect finished the year with nine starts in 10 total appearances. He owned a 3.44era his rookie year on his way to a 6-2 record. Simply put, the former 20th overall pick by the Mets in the 2017 MLB Draft proved he belonged as a rookie.
That being said, expectations were high for Peterson coming into the 2021 season. Even with a retooled starting rotation, a starting rotation spot was his to lose, given Syndergaard would not return for months. In other words, Peterson’s job to this point has been to hold down the fort.
Early season struggles
Unlike last season, Peterson did not fare well right away in 2021. His first start only lasted four innings, as he gave up six earned runs in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. At the same time, he would go onto bounce back a week later, giving up one earned run and striking out a career-high 10 batters against the Phillies.
These not-so-good starts followed by an okay start have been a pattern for Peterson to start the year. He has lasted six innings in two games, between four and five innings in two games, and less than four innings or less in two.
Peterson has ultimately produced a 5.54ERA so far in 2021, being a number the Mets definitely want to see lowered. Luckily, so far the strong bullpen pitching has helped carry the team through Peterson’s shortened starts.
Either way now is the time for Peterson to get things back on track. In large part because the Mets do not have any other choice.
deGrom’s injury impact
It was one thing for Peterson to have these “okay” at best starts while the big three was carrying the load. Although, now with superstar pitcher Jacob deGrom now on the 10-day injured list, Peterson needs to get his act together.
Already, the Mets were essentially running with a four-man starting rotation, with the fifth spot being a lengthy bullpen day. With deGrom hurt, the team needs Stroman, Walker, and Peterson to be able to pitch their way through at least six innings in order to survive without their Cy Young candidate.
Peterson’s innings watch
Another factor to watch over the next few weeks especially will be Peterson’s innings on the season. After back-to-back years of 20+ starts, totaling over 100 innings in the minors, the Oregon product only threw 49.2 in 2020.
Like all pitchers, the return to pitching full season numbers is going to be closely monitored for Peterson. Currently, he has thrown 26.0 through six starts, putting him past the halfway mark of his 2020 totals.
Obviously, the pending return of Carrasco will help lighten the load for Peterson. And one day, his role may take another step back depending on how he is utilized once Syndergaard returns.
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Nevertheless, more now than ever, with Jacob deGrom hurt, David Peterson needs to start pitching better than he has so far in 2021.