The New York Mets halted an eight-game losing streak on Sunday night, the franchise's longest such streak in 14 years, with a 2-0 win over the New York Yankees behind the pitching brilliance of spot starter Seth Lugo, who had filled in for the injured Noah Syndergaard.
He allowed just two hits over six innings while striking out eight, lowering his season ERA to 1.77, stifling a threatening Yankees team that took the first two games of the Subway Series at Citi Field.
It's continued the trend of Mets starters that have performed extremely well over the past 21 games despite the team being in a horrific slump.
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After starting the season 11-1, the wheels have fallen off in Queens as the Mets are 17-33 since Apr. 14. That's the worst mark in the National League during that span as this latest eight-game losing streak made it look as though the season was doomed in early June.
But the starting pitching has been a saving grace since May 20 as New York's rotation has accrued a 2.34 ERA over those 21 games. On 13 occasions, the opposition has scored four runs or less, but the Mets are just 6-15.
That's because an anemic offense has been unable to score runs, averaging just three per game over the past three weeks. It's been even worse over their last nine games, even with their Sunday-night win, as the Mets have plated an average of 1.4 runs.
Most notably, they've spoiled the brilliance of Jacob deGrom, who is putting together a serious Cy Young Award resume through the first three months of the season, leading the National League with a 1.57 ERA.
Over his last nine starts dating back to Apr. 21, he's allowed just five earned runs in 55.1 innings while striking out 76 batters. Yet, he's only picked up two winning decisions while the Mets are 2-7 as a team in those starts thanks to a 2.1 runs-per-game average.
The rest of the Mets rotation has begun to come around, for the most part to bring some support to deGrom. Steven Matz has a 2.05 ERA in his last four starts while Jason Vargas has lowered his ERA from 13.86 on May 8 to 7.71 in his last four outings. Zack Wheeler has also been improving with a 2.52 ERA since May 22.
All this has been going on while Noah Syndergaard continues to nurse an injured finger and the bullpen sports a concerning ERA of 4.03 so far this year.
But should the Mets suddenly find their offensive footing (because management likely won't make any trades to improve it), they might be able to get back in the conversation of contention in the NL East.