WASHINGTON -- Outside of a few aches and pains here and there, the Mets' rotation has stayed remarkably healthy this season. A group with significant injury concerns heading into the spring has quelled nearly all of them, with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz in particular combining
WASHINGTON -- Outside of a few aches and pains here and there, the Mets' rotation has stayed remarkably healthy this season. A group with significant injury concerns heading into the spring has quelled nearly all of them, with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz in particular combining to start 111 of the team's first 155 games.
As a result, a year after exposing their lack of rotation depth during an injury-riddled season, the Mets have relied relatively little on their extra arms. But they will head into the winter optimistic about the one depth piece they've seen consistently, rookie Corey Oswalt, who delivered five innings of two-run ball Saturday in a 6-0 loss to the Nationals.
"We know that we have an impactful pitcher on our hands," manager Mickey Callaway said.
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Although the Mets will not ask the 25-year-old Oswalt to be a member of their 2019 rotation, they will almost certainly ask him to do what he did Saturday at Nationals Park. Spot starting for Wheeler, whom the Mets shut down for the season due to workload concerns, Oswalt wriggled out of jams in the first and second innings, and retired eight of the final nine batters he faced. In between, the Nationals troubled Oswalt only for a Trea Turner two-run homer in the third.
The Mets' defeat landed more squarely on the shoulders of reliever Jerry Blevins, who allowed a three-run shot to Matt Wieters in the sixth inning, and on an offense that mustered just one hit against rookie starter Austin Voth and a quartet of relievers.
Those factors foisted a loss upon Oswalt, whose overall numbers -- 3-3 with a 6.08 ERA -- hardly tell the story of his summer. Frequently shuttled between Triple-A Las Vegas and the Majors, and between the big league bullpen and rotation, Oswalt owns a 4.06 ERA in starts on four or five days' rest. That includes each of his three starts this month, in which he holds a 3.38 mark.
"The shuffling back and forth is just how the game goes sometimes and what the team needs." Oswalt said. "But it's nice to be on a little bit of a routine, and building off that going into games."
While Callaway has hinted that he wants the Mets to acquire free-agent starting-pitching depth over the winter, Oswalt will remain a part of the team's plans -- especially since the club appears content with Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman as bullpen cogs instead of rotation pieces. None of the Mets' top four pitching prospects -- Justin Dunn, Franklyn Kilome, David Peterson and Anthony Kay -- will be ready for the Majors by the start of next season, making Oswalt an insurance policy in the event of injury.
"We need to go out and make sure that we have as many starting options as we possibly can, because that can keep you in it when guys go down," Callaway said. "And guys go down. We've been fortunate this year with the health of most of our arms, but you can't expect that every single year. So we have to be prepared for the worst."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Leaky bullpen: His recent run of 13 consecutive scoreless outings definitively in the past, Blevins has allowed at least one run in each of his last three appearances. The left-hander's trouble Saturday began when Anthony Rendon hit a one-out double in the sixth, then moved to third on Juan Soto's groundout. Blevins intentionally walked the next batter, Ryan Zimmerman, compounding the effects of Wieters' subsequent homer.
Due to become a free agent after the season, Blevins owns a 4.61 ERA.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Mets' one-hit performance could have been worse. Leading off the fourth inning, Michael Conforto punched an inside fastball to the opposite field, away from the Nationals' defensive overshift. Rendon managed to glove it and attempt a jump throw to first base, but not in nearly enough time to nab Conforto.
That wound up being the Mets' only hit. It was their most meager offensive performance since the Dodgers also one-hit them Aug. 6, 2017.
HE SAID IT
"He has a knack for throwing the ball over the plate. He's got a lot of deception in his fastball. … He's got enough weapons to go out there and compete." -- Callaway, on Oswalt
Matz will start the Mets' final road game of the year Sunday at Nationals Park. The owner of a 2.29 ERA over his last six outings, Matz will put that run of success on the line against right-hander Erick Fedde in the 1:35 p.m. ET game.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.