DENVER — It’s David Peterson’s turn to step up and give the Mets quality innings.
The left-hander joined the team in Denver this weekend. He’s gearing up to start the Mets’ series opener against the Giants in San Francisco on Monday, and he’s expected to settle into the rotation with the big-league club for at least the next several weeks.
“It’s nothing new,” Peterson said. “I kind of knew this was going to happen at some point.”
Peterson will be the replacement starter for Max Scherzer, who is on the injured list with a moderate to high oblique strain and is sidelined until late June, at best. Peterson excelled in his first call-up of the season in April, when he filled in for the injured Taijuan Walker for four games (three starts) and recorded a 1.89 ERA across those 19 innings.
“Pete has evolved into a guy that we hope can step in and help us in a time of need and establish himself as a guy that we can maybe depend on in the future,” Buck Showalter said. “He’s fit into our plans since spring training and he’s taken it and ran with it.”
The southpaw said, this year, the team’s approach to players having to miss time with injuries is different than last. When Jacob deGrom missed the entire second half of last season and Francisco Lindor missed ample time with an oblique injury last August, those losses seemed insurmountable to a Mets team that was losing its hold on first place.
Now, the Mets are staying mostly consistent even without their key players in Scherzer, Tylor Megill (right biceps tendinitis), James McCann (left hamate bone fracture), Trevor May (triceps stress reaction), and of course, Jacob deGrom (scapula stress reaction).
“Even though we didn’t reach our goals as a team last year, I think last year helped us going into this year,” Peterson said. “You look at the guys that went down with injuries, the amount of time that we spent in first place with all the injuries we had. We learned a lot in terms of how to deal with guys going in and out and being hurt, and I think that’s a valuable experience to have to deal with that previously. I think we have a lot of guys in this room that have been in that spot and been counted on when somebody else has gone down.”
Peterson, 26, made his major-league debut for the Mets during MLB’s pandemic-shortened season in 2020. He posted a 3.44 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) and 49.2 innings in his rookie year. He jumped back in the Mets rotation last year, filling in for Carlos Carrasco who began the season on the IL. But Peterson injured his foot in July and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery. He returned to spring training in March this year fully healthy, and has been a valuable depth arm for the Mets, embracing his back-and-forth role between the majors and Triple-A.
Lindor said that next-man-up mentality starts with Showalter, who has prepared his players to stay ready for challenges and injuries since the moment they walked into spring training. In that way, the Mets weren’t particularly surprised or rattled when the injuries started piling up over the course of the past month.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the other guys step up and see their leadership roles,” Lindor said. “That’s one of the most beautiful things in the game. When somebody leaves, somebody else steps up. And it’s their time to help the other ones as well.”
MAX IN FLORIDA
Scherzer is rehabbing his oblique strain back in Florida, which means one of the team’s key leaders is absent from the clubhouse for the upcoming weeks. His competitive energy will be sorely missed in the dugout, a few players said, but his mentorship will also not be present.
“He has a huge presence in the clubhouse,” Lindor said of Scherzer. “He helps the pitchers a lot. And he’s a little crazy so he gives a little bit of an edge and charisma and fire to the team. We’re going to miss him. But there’s a lot of other guys that make the clubhouse fun as well.”
Scherzer has helped some of the younger pitchers on the staff, like Megill and Peterson, in just a few short months on the Mets. He was often seen sidling up next to a starter once he was removed from the game and unpacking the outing with him in the dugout. As is his wont, Scherzer’s intangible qualities can be just as important as his ferociousness on the mound.
The three-time Cy Young award winner removed himself in his last start, during an at-bat against Albert Pujols, with left-side pain that wound up being a more severe oblique strain.
“He’s obviously a huge part of this team and he’s done a lot for this team so far,” Peterson said. “We obviously want him back, but we gotta keep going and keep winning games. Just like anybody that goes down, we have somebody to take their spot.”
Showalter gave Starling Marte the afternoon off for the club’s series finale against the Rockies on Sunday. The skipper said Marte got only 4-5 hours of sleep in the past three days between traveling from Dominican Republic to Denver, while grieving his grandmother’s recent death. Marte crushed a home run on the first pitch he saw since returning from the bereavement list on Saturday, in what was an emotional day for the outfielder.
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