The Mets may have entered this week with the lowest rotation ERA in the Majors, but that hardly meant they lacked starting pitching concerns. Of particular note, sophomore left-hander David Peterson entered Monday’s play with a 9.88 ERA in his last four starts, which prompted some around the team to call his job into question.
Problem is, the Mets don’t have an obvious in-house replacement, and the Trade Deadline is still nearly seven weeks away. Their best and easiest way out of that lurch is for Peterson to begin pitching the way he did as a rookie.
That’s precisely what he did on Monday, holding the Cubs to a single hit over six innings in one of his most impactful starts of the season, a 5-2 Mets win at Citi Field. Peterson walked two, struck out three and eliminated a runner on a nifty pickoff move to second base, slicing his ERA from 6.32 to 5.60 in the process.
“We all love David, and he’s a bulldog out there,” left fielder Dominic Smith said. “We’re all going to go through a little bit of failure in this game. This game is a humbling game. I think the biggest thing is what do you do after that failure, and how do you challenge that? And I think he did a great job tonight against a first-place team.”
Peterson was not the only slumping Met to enjoy a renaissance on Monday, as Smith busted out of an 0-for-20 stretch at the plate with a walk, a single and a solo homer. But fewer doubts seemed to surround Smith, who posted MVP-caliber numbers a season ago. Although Peterson may also have thrived in 2020, his underlying statistics told the story of a pitcher at risk of regression. Specifically, his 4.52 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and 4.39 xERA (Expected ERA) were both around a run higher than his 3.44 ERA.