For a second-straight start, New York Mets sophomore southpaw David Peterson was tagged and run from the hill early.
Tuesday night in Baltimore against a lowly Orioles team that’s in a run of decent form saw Peterson staked with an early lead before giving it right back — allowing four runs on eight hits in just 2.2 innings pitched.
Incredibly enough, it was better than his previous start on June 2 against the Diamondbacks in Arizona where he was hit for five runs and walked three before getting the hook with just one out in the first inning.
The 25-year-old’s ERA has now swollen to 6.32 while his arsenal of pitches has experienced a noticeable dip in malice. A slider that was once his putaway pitch during a promising rookie campaign last year looks flat in 2021.
“He had a good fastball, but the secondary stuff is still inconsistent right now,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said after suggesting Peterson spent too much of his offseason and spring training focusing on his changeup and curveball. “He’s just missing spots.”
His struggles come at a precarious time in the Mets’ season. A roster that had been decimated by injuries has remarkably stayed afloat behind a band of reserves that have answered the bell when called upon; all while a rotation led by Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Taijuan Walker have received immense support from a bullpen that has been far more reliable than not.
The cavalry is expected to return sooner rather than later. In the field, Michael Conforto, Luis Guillorme, and Jeff McNeil are returning sooner rather than later. But in the rotation, Carlos Carrasco’s timetable has been steadily pushed back while Noah Syndergaard was recently shut down in his rehab start in late May and won’t throw for at least four more weeks.
That’s left Peterson to man the lower portion of the Mets’ rotation alongside Joey Lucchesi after another depth option in Jordan Yamamoto hit the injured list, too.
“We’re just going through a rough patch here,” Peterson said. “All I can keep doing is showing up and working hard and trying to put this on the straight and narrow.”
There are no other reliable reinforcements to turn to even if the Mets wanted to take a break from Peterson. The only other healthy starter on the 40-man roster is in Triple-A Syracuse, and Thomas Szapucki has yet to record an outing in which he’s gone past the fifth inning despite an impressive 2.05 ERA over five games.
So for now, it’s Peterson or bust for the Mets as Rojas immediately confirmed that the lefty would be making his next scheduled start.
“We need to get him right. We need David Peterson,” Rojas said. “He’s going to be a big piece to get through [the next month].
“Right now it’s on us and him to get back on track. The poise is there. The stuff is there. He just needs the command.”