Cookie calls Mets' rotation best he's been in

Righty strikes out 9 over 6 2/3 strong innings vs. Reds to keep N.Y.'s starters rolling

August 10th, 2022

NEW YORK -- In Cleveland, there was Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber, all pitching alongside Carlos Carrasco during his best years with the Indians. In New York, there's Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker, as Carrasco is right in the middle of another starting-pitching-led contender.

He's been a part of some of the most dominant starting rotations of the last decade. And in his opinion? The 2022 Mets rotation is the best one he's ever pitched in.

"Yes. To be honest with you, yes," Carrasco said, after pitching the Mets to a 6-2 win over the Reds on Tuesday night at Citi Field.

"Just to have Jake in there, Max -- five Cy Youngs together. Bassitt, Tai, [David Peterson], [Tylor] Megill with what he did at the beginning of the season, myself. It feels really good to be part of this rotation."

Carrasco earned his 13th win of the season -- tied for the National League lead and second most in MLB behind Justin Verlander (15) -- with 6 2/3 innings of two-run, nine-strikeout baseball against Cincinnati in the Mets' fifth straight victory. He's now 13-4 with a 3.76 ERA and 123 strikeouts in his 22 starts this season.

"Carlos has been a good Major League pitcher for a long time," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's been in attack mode … I think he's at peace with the results as long as he's in attack mode. A lot of guys, they go back to the hotel, or the apartment, or the house, and say, 'I wish I had trusted myself and went after some people.'"

Sparked by the returns of Scherzer and deGrom from injury, the Mets’ rotation has been overpowering the rest of the league for more than a month. With Carrasco's performance against the Reds, Mets starters have a 2.23 ERA over their last 31 games going back to July 5, the day Scherzer returned from the injured list. That's the best ERA of any rotation over that time, well ahead of the next-best Dodgers. The Mets' starting rotation also has a Major League-leading 202 strikeouts and only 45 walks in that span.

With the starters setting the tone, the Mets have won 14 of their past 16 games and are now 33 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 20, 2006. On their current five-game winning streak, they haven't trailed once.

It's reminding Carrasco of the great rotations he pitched for previously, even as these Mets surpass them in his mind. The 2022 Mets starters, he said, pick up on each other's strong starts and share pitching knowledge the same way as those Cleveland rotations did.

"Yes," Carrasco said, when asked if the Mets rotation's cohesiveness parallels what he experienced with Cleveland. "That was what we did every day. In 2016, that's why we made it to the World Series. We watched together, and every time we just talked about what we needed to do for the next day."

Carrasco has recaptured some of his old magic during this run by the Mets' staff. Since the beginning of July, he's 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 42 strikeouts in his seven starts. The Mets have won all seven. He said it's one of the best stretches of his career.

"I feel the same way that I felt a long time ago, in 2017 and '18," Carrasco said. "That's what I've been feeling all of the last two months. I want to continue to feel that way, so I can finish the season strong."