Mets' Luis Rojas reflects on eighth inning bullpen management

·3 min read
Luis Rojas walks to mound at Citi Field close up shot
Luis Rojas walks to mound at Citi Field close up shot

David Peterson had his best outing as a major leaguer on Friday. He went a career-high 7.1 innings, and his nine strikeouts were the third-most of his career. At one point, he retired 17 batters in a row.

But it was all for naught, as the Mets fell to the Rays 3-2 in walk-off fashion.

Surely, the loss is not pinned on Peterson, but the lefty struggled in the eighth inning, allowing a solo home run to Mike Zunino and double to Kevin Padlo to open up the inning.

It was not until the back-to-back extra-base hits that the Mets’ bullpen started to have some activitiy.

“We talked about [warming guys up before the inning]…” manager Luis Rojas told reporters after the game on Friday. “We felt comfortable with Petey and his pitch count and the previous matchups that he had against those three batters…

“The inning before was another 1-2-3 inning… Even though he had the seven ups, we felt that the 7-8-9 hitters, he already had success early in the game against them, we felt that he could face them. With the pitch count and the command and how he’s looked. It didn’t go that way.”

Rojas also hinted that bringing in right-hander Trevor May or Miguel Castro earlier could have prompted the Rays to combat with lefties Joey Wendle or Brandon Lowe to pinch-hit.

“So we wanted to keep it the same. Petey [was] throwing well and the success he already had against the bottom of the order,” Rojas added.

Peterson was pulled after striking out Brett Phillips and Randy Arozarena came up for the fourth time. May came into the game with a runner on second, and although he retired Arozarena, the next batter, Manuel Margot tied the game up with a double.

Aaron Loup also allowed the walk-off single, coming into the game after Castro loaded the bases in the ninth.

“These things happen… We’re not gonna look at this as a big fail. One of those adversities that we just didn’t win this time. They’ve done a great job this season. They’re gonna be back there in these types of situations,” Rojas said.

The big takeaway of the evening, though, was Peterson’s gem after failing to get out of the second inning in his last start. Peterson had loaded the bases with one out in the second, but back-to-back strikeouts ended that threat. He went on to retire 15 more consecutive batters, and his fastball command was on point.

“Having my fastball was a big thing tonight,” said Peterson. “After that second inning, we threw a lot of fastballs to them for the majority of the later innings. It all starts with fastball. Being able to throw that pitch for a strike and having confidence in that pitch gives me more confidence with all my pitches… Being able to pound zone and let the defense work was a huge key to the success.”

The Mets will look to tie the series against Tampa Bay on Saturday at 1:10 p.m.

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