NEW YORK – During a shaky moment for the Mets in Game One with a double-header on Saturday at Citi Field, Braves left-footed hitter Matt Olson climbed to the plate with two men at the base for seventh. Lacking a trustworthy left-handed savior, manager Buck Showalter turned instead to right-handed Adam Ottavino, who let in Olson’s RBI song before escaping the role.
Early on an August afternoon, Peterson played his traditional role as a novice kicker, making 5 1/3 goalless innings in an 8-5 win over the Braves. Mets officials trust him as a starter and see him as a long-term solution to the rotation. But with Jacob Degrom, Max Scherzer and the rest mostly spinning healthy, there is currently no place for Peterson in the role. More so, there is a noticeable need at Bullpen, with general manager Billy Eppler – citing a high acquisition cost – refusing to add a left-handed penalty before the August 2 trading deadline.
It’s a clear opportunity for Peterson, who could be the Mets’ best choice against the kinds of left-football players they might see in October, including Dodgers’ Freddy Freeman, Padres’s Juan Soto and other giants of the game.
“I’m ready to take on this job,” Peterson said.
Keep in mind: Saturday’s entry, Peterson had limited left-handed hitters to a slash of .180/.275/.443, and that was before hitting the two left-handers in Atlanta’s starting lineup—Olson and second Michael Harris—three times in five boards.
Compare that to Joely Rodríguez, the only left-hander at the New York Bullpen, who allowed hitters from the same side to touch him for a .204/.339/.315 slash — not bad, but also inconsistent. When turning down a trade in favor of a left-handed like Andrew Chavin or Matt Moore or the many other allegedly available guns at Deadline, Ebler explained that the Mets “know that Joelly has some record, and feel comfortable about being able to return to being the best version of himself.”
If Rodríguez can’t, Peterson offers an enticing Plan B. Even if Rodríguez could, Peterson could provide value as an alternative left-handed option. Before Peterson was briefly chosen to join the Minors last month to keep him stretched out as a starter, the Mets began grooming him with a cameo appearance as a major league assistant.
“Everything plays later in the season,” Showalter said. “We’ll look at everything.”
For now, Peterson remains an important part of the spinning depth. After the first double-header game, Mets Peterson opted to play in the Syracuse triple to keep it stretched out as a start, knowing that another double-header loomed on August 20 against the Phillies. This depth is important for a club that understands the changing nature of the big fans in the league. Due to the potential for injuries, rain or any number of other issues, it is unlikely that DeGrom, Scherzer, Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker will start all of the Mets’ remaining 55 games. Should a need arise in the spin, Peterson earned the right to fill it in, given his 5-2 and 3.17 ERA record as a starting boat.
On Saturday, Peterson entered sixth despite a limited number of pitches and a shaky start, which included a base-loaded Atlanta threat in the first. During the first four rounds of the game, Peterson walked three hits and stranded five, relying on a double-play ball and some increased speed. As a standout feature, the left-handed man threw a submersible at 99 mph to Olson, topping his previous career best by more than two full points from the radar gun.
It’s the kind of thing that could play more at the bullseye, with the Mets already planning to use Tylor Megill – another one-time spinning depth piece – in September and October. Club officials have yet to discuss the same possibility with Peterson.
If and when they do, he will be responsive.
“The goal is for this team to win, and for us to reach our ultimate goal,” Peterson said. “In any way I can help, that’s what I’m here to do.”