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Mets’ David Peterson working through assignment carousel in hopes of sticking in starting rotation

David Peterson Mets
David Peterson
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

QUEENS — Preparing for just his second start in a month on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, David Peterson is used to wearing different hats at this point. 

In the last two years alone, the Mets’ 27-year-old southpaw has been demoted from the majors to Triple-A seven times but has found a way back to Queens each time. 

During his bevy of major-league stints, he’s been moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen in each of the last two seasons. This year, however, he’s been forced back into starting duties after the Mets dealt Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander at the trade deadline — a possibility that he knew existed when he was initially sent to the bullpen on July 14.

“They were pretty upfront with me,” Peterson told amNewYork. “They said ‘Hey, you’re not going anywhere. You’re going to go in the bullpen for now.’ It was kind of obvious that we were going to wait and see what happened around the deadline to see if I stuck in the bullpen if we kept everybody.

“If we move some pieces, I would go back to the rotation. So it was said without really having to be said that we just needed to see what came after Aug. 1 and then go from there. You see [Scherzer] get moved first and then there’s a spot in the rotation so I figured that I was going back in.”

Mets Cubs David Peterson
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter takes the ball from pitcher David Peterson during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Peterson began the 2023 season being told that he’d start in Triple-A, but injuries to Jose Quintana and Justin Verlander opened an avenue for him to stay up. He posted an 8.08 ERA in eight starts before getting sent down to Triple-A in mid-May but was recalled to take over for the struggling Tylor Megill on June 27.

With a second chance, he strung together three positive starts, posting a 2.35 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 15.1 innings of work. But the long-awaited return of Quintana pushed him back out to the pen where he allowed just two earned runs in eight innings across six appearances and two weeks.

“It’s a good experience to pitch out of the bullpen and getting used to seeing how it differs from starting and how can I use that bullpen mentality when I go back to starting and say how can I use it when I’m in a jam,” Peterson said. “Whatever my job was that day, I try to focus on that and continue to do my work and get better.”

Then came the dismantling of the rotation, the trades of Scherzer and Verlander, and another chance to prove that he can be a long-term option as a starter for a unit that will be in flux this offseason. Peterson is one of just five Mets starters under team control in 2024.

David Peterson Mets
David PetersonAP Photo/Lynne Sladky

He got his first start since July 8 on Aug. 4 against the Orioles down in Baltimore, going three scoreless innings while allowing just one hit with three walks. But a strict pitch count was necessary to stretch him back out to a starter’s workload. After his longest outing in the bullpen was 24 pitches on July 21 against the Boston Red Sox, he was limited to just 55 pitches in what became a 10-3 Mets loss.

Peterson is looking to stretch that pitch count to 65 or 70 pitches on Thursday at Citi Field against the Cubs.

“I spent basically a month in the bullpen,” Peterson said. “You have to start to look at it and say ‘OK, the highest pitch count I had when I was in the bullpen was 24.’ So obviously, I’m not in a position where I can make a full start with no limits. And so that’s kind of when you get to that point then it’s like, ‘OK, it’s going to take a couple of starts to build back up and then hopefully, I’m going to get two or three on the road and I’m back to a full go.’

For more on the Mets and David Peterson, visit AMNY.com