Other under circumstances, Mickey Callaway would be receiving credit this week as one starting pitcher after the other has been giving the Mets solid starts.
Zack Wheeler took a shutout into the seventh inning on Friday. Jacob deGrom collected 13 strikeouts while giving up one run in seven innings on Saturday. Steven Matz gave up two runs in seven innings on Sunday. And Jason Vargas gave up two in five innings before being lifted for a pinch-hitter last night.
Matz has lowered his ERA from 4.98 at the end of April to 3.42 after his last start. Vargas has pitched five innings of shutout ball in two of his last four starts after a nightmare start to the season. And deGrom has been the best pitcher in the National League not named Max Scherzer.
The story of this team could be how pitching is anchoring the Mets instead of how the offense is sinking it.
Instead, a five-game losing streak has the 27-31 Mets on their heels. The team has scored seven runs over the last five games, including one run in a 14-inning loss to the Cubs on Saturday.
The Orioles came into this two-game series with the worst record in baseball at 17-41. Naturally, Alex Cobb, who entered last night’s start 1-7 with a 6.80 ERA, held the Mets to one run over six innings. The Mets have been held to three hits in each of the last two games, and have scored two runs in the last 33 innings.
Jay Bruce said that players can’t chase results at the plate. The manager acknowledged that it’s not something that can be known from his point of view in the dugout. “I think that’s not something you can see with the naked eye,” Callaway said. “I think only that person knows if they’re chasing results or not. But I haven’t seen it from the way guys are going about their business, their routines. I haven’t seen frustration that would indicate any of that.”
Mets fans have seen struggling offenses before but this isn’t John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell batting in the heart of the order.
“It can be frustrating,” Callaway said. “It’s not easy when you prepare all day and you hit a line drive at somebody. That’s hard to take and you get frustrated with that sometimes.”
It feels like a season close to being on the brink, especially with the Subway Series coming to Queens this weekend.
Callaway was an immediate hit when the team started 11-1, a stretch of baseball that, at this point, feels as relevant as the 13-3 start the Mets had in 1986. He took some flack for saying “This isn’t Cleveland”, as a possible reason that the team might have been playing tight in recent games, although most people will agree that there’s more pressure in New York than there is almost anywhere else.
Callaway came to Flushing as a pitching guru. His pitchers have been putting the Mets in position to win. Now he would like to see the bats come around.