Between Yoenis Cespedes not showing up and later opting out of the season, and the Mets offense remaining inept, it was another dark day in Atlanta for Luis Rojas’ team.
There was one ray of sunshine trying to peek through the storm clouds, however.
Rookie left-hander David Peterson delivered his second strong outing to begin his big-league career, limiting the Braves to three runs on five hits in six quality innings while striking out eight in a 4-0 loss.
“He threw a heck of a game for us once again, commanding all his pitches, attacking guys, being tough in tough situations,” Rojas said over Zoom after his team lost its fifth straight game.
After allowing two runs over 5 ²/₃ innings in his debut against the Red Sox when he pitched with a big lead, Peterson had to work from behind this time, in part due to a mental mistake by Jeff McNeil. In the third inning, with second and third and nobody out, Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out to McNeil at third. McNeil instantly threw home instead of running at Adam Duvall, the runner at third. It enabled Duvall to return to the base safely. Peterson walked Ronald Acuna Jr. with the bases loaded to force in the game’s first run. There were still no outs, but Peterson struck out Dansby Swanson, got Freddie Freeman to ground out to plate another and also retired Marcell Ozuna to prevent a big inning.
“Even though that run came in, I still had a job to do to get us out of that inning,” Peterson said. “For me, that’s what it’s all about, taking that break and get back on the mound and get us out of that inning.”
In the fourth, Johan Camargo took Peterson deep, but that was all the damage that would be done. Compared to the outing against the Red Sox when Peterson only fanned three, he struck out eight on Sunday, frequently using his put-away slider.
“I felt good with all my pitches,” he said. “All four pitches I was comfortable with today.”
With Peterson impressing so far, it could create a tough decision for the Mets. He’s out-pitched veteran newcomers Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello, each of whom have thrown in a clunker so far. In fact, through two turns in the rotation, only Jacob deGrom (two) and Steven Matz (four) have allowed fewer runs than Peterson (five). When Marcus Stroman (left calf tear) is ready to return, and he threw four innings against live hitters on Friday at the alternate training site in Brooklyn, a decision will have to be made.
“We’ll have to see where we’re at,” Rojas said. “Right now, he’s our fifth starter.”
He’s pitched more like their No. 3 so far.