Bassitt delivers stellar start when Mets need it most

September 7th, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- Time and again, when the Mets need to give them length, he provides exactly what they require.

During a week that has seen Max Scherzer land on the injured list, Taijuan Walker wrestle with a blister issue, and Carlos Carrasco deliver a disappointing start in his return from injury, the Mets found themselves in need of steady pitching -- particularly given a doubleheader Wednesday in Pittsburgh. They weren’t particularly surprised when Bassitt provided it during a 5-1 victory in Game 1, striking out 10 over seven innings of one-run ball.

Bassitt and Seth Lugo combined on all nine innings of the win, allowing the Mets to save everyone else for Game 2 and beyond.

“He’s just been consistent -- really all year,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s just posted up for us at every turn, and a big outing today.”

There wasn’t much for the Mets to dislike about Bassitt’s start, which included his second-highest strikeout total of the season and only five hits. The Pirates didn’t seriously challenge Bassitt until the sixth, when Greg Allen doubled and Tyler Heineman singled him home to open a six-batter rally. But Bassitt escaped from that inning without any additional damage, allowing him to continue pitching through the seventh.

“He executed,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I think it was the cutter-curveball combination that kind of kept us off balance.”

All told, Bassitt threw 101 pitches. His average of 98.4 per outing ranks sixth in the Majors, while his 11 games of 100-plus pitches are tied for ninth. That sort of consistency has allowed the Mets to weather the absences of pitchers such as Scherzer in the recent past, giving them faith that they can do so again.

“If Max is 100 percent healthy, I still want to do what I did today,” Bassitt said. “I still want to go nine innings every time I’m out there.”

The Mets, who had struggled to score during three consecutive losses to the last-place Nationals and Pirates, broke the dam when Tyler Naquin hit a three-run homer in the fourth. Eduardo Escobar followed with a solo shot, giving Bassitt all the support he would need and allowing the Mets to avoid their first four-game losing streak. Only they and the Braves have managed to avoid dropping four in a row.