Thursday, June 6, 2019

Mets Pitching A Strength That's Showing At Just The Right Time

Zack Wheeler fires a pitch on Thursday afternoon. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets' pitching staff is one of their strengths, as Manager Mickey Callaway always reiterates, and it showed in their series with San Francisco at Citi Field, in which they won two of three capped by a 7-3 win on Thursday afternoon.

On Tuesday night, Noah Syndergaard got the series started with a solid effort, as he threw 6-2/3 innings, 3 earned runs, 5 hits and 3 walks, with 4 strikeouts. He was pulled with two outs in the seventh, and San Francisco went on to win 9-3.

Jason Vargas got the start on Wednesday night and he had a phenomenal outing, as he went the distance in a 7-0 shutout win.

Vargas allowed just five hits and a walk, while striking out a season-high eight Giants, to earn his second win of the season (2-3) and lower his ERA to 3.57,  which is second-best to Jacob DeGrom, who is a shade better at 3.49.

This was Vargas' first shutout as a Met and his first since June 2, 2017 when he threw one for Kansas City against Cleveland. It was his 13th career complete game.

Vargas now has eight career shutouts, all of which have come since 2011. Only Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, with 14, has thrown more shutouts than Vargas in that time. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright also has eight shutouts in the last nine seasons.

After nearly losing his spot in the rotation in April, Vargas has turned it on lately, as he has allowed one or no earned runs in six of his last seven starts. He has a 1.85 ERA (eight earned runs in 39.0 innings) in his last seven outings.

This outing comes after he threw seven innings against the Dodgers on May 30 in a 2-0 Mets loss, the first time he has thrown seven-or-more innings in back-to-back starts for the first time as a Met. He last did it June 24 and 30, 2017 as a Royal.

Vargas is the first Mets to shut out the Giants since Kenny Rogers did it on September 6, 1999. (I was there as a fan on Labor Day)

At the age of 36 years and 123 days old, Vargas is the oldest Met to throw a shutout since Bartolo Colon on September 5, 2015 at Miami. Colon was 42 years and 104 days old.

On Thursday, in the series finale, Zack Wheeler threw seven innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk, while striking out six. in the Mets' 7-3 win.

This was the eighth time that Wheeler has thrown seven-plus innings this season, tied for the most in the Major Leagues with Houston's Justin Verlander and the Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu. He has gone at least 7 innings in 21 of his last 32 starts after he has just eight starts of seven-plus innings in his first 76 career outings.

Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of Wheeler, "He's been throwing the ball great, he's pitching deep into games. We've been relying on all of our starters, I think we have three guys in the top 10 in pitches thrown per start - top 10 in all of baseball, and these guys are pitching deep into the games, and we're leaning on them because we know they're our strength."

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