Home News Steve Cohen keeps coming back to starting pitching as Mets’ big problem: ‘So spotty’

Steve Cohen keeps coming back to starting pitching as Mets’ big problem: ‘So spotty’

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Steve Cohen’s $317.6 million investment in the Mets’ starting pitching doesn’t look so good right now.

And he knows it.

In an exclusive interview with The Post’s Joel Sherman, Cohen brought up his ballclub’s starting pitching as the team’s biggest issue on more than one occasion, with the Mets having lost seven straight going into Saturday including a disastrous 14-7 defeat to the Pirates on Friday in which Tylor Megill was chased after giving up seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

“The offense has been fine. Earlier in the year it got off to a rough start. I just think the pitching has been so spotty,” Cohen said. “You can’t win games if your pitcher goes three innings, four innings. You just can’t. It is like a cascading effect. It burns the bullpen out. These are veteran pitchers that pitched well last year. I don’t know why [it isn’t going well], to be perfectly blunt. I know they’re working hard. I know they’re motivated, and it doesn’t preclude things getting better.”

Cohen spent big on upgrading the team’s starting pitching this offseason, signing Justin Verlander (two years, $86 million), Kodai Senga (five years, $75 million) and Jose Quintana (two years, $26 million).


Justin Verlander of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on June 08, 2023.
Getty Images

That came in addition to Max Scherzer’s three-year, $130 million deal last offseason.

The returns on those investments right now might get a trader fired from Cohen’s hedge fund.

Verlander missed all of April and has a 4.85 ERA since returning, including a disastrous outing in Atlanta on Thursday in which he allowed five runs, four earned, over three innings in a 13-10 Mets loss.

Quintana has yet to pitch in 2023 after suffering a left rib fracture, undergoing bone graft surgery in late March, and isn’t expected back until July — at best.

Scherzer has dealt with issues around his right shoulder blade and has been far from his normal self, with an ERA 1.42 runs higher than last season. The former Cy Young winner was also hit hard by the Braves, coughing up five runs on 11 hits in an eventual 7-5 Mets loss.

Senga, who has stayed healthy, has been relatively encouraging with solid numbers across the board but is still adjusting to the majors.

In particular, he’s now pitching once every five days as opposed to the once-weekly schedule he enjoyed in Japan.


New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) reacts on the mound after giving up a home run to Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) during the third inning when the New York Mets played the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday, June 4, 2023 at Citi Field
New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) reacts on the mound after giving up a home run to Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) during the third inning when the New York Mets played the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday, June 4, 2023, at Citi Field.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

It does not help that Megill and Carlos Carrasco both have ERAs above five as well.

“We’ve made significant investments in our pitching staff,” Cohen said. “And we’ve had some negative mean reversion with some of our younger pitchers where they haven’t performed up to what we thought they were capable of and what they did last year.

“You sorta have a mix of problems here that could change. But I still keep coming back to, it’s a pitching problem.”

This was the risk the Mets ran when they made the 40-year-old Verlander and 38-year-old Scherzer the two cornerstones of their pitching staff.

But it is not only them who have performed below par, it is just about everyone.


New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) reacts on the mound during the 7th inning when the New York Mets played the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday, June 1, 2023 at Citi Field
New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) reacts on the mound during the 7th inning when the New York Mets played the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday, June 1, 2023, at Citi Field.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

The Mets’ starting pitching has given up more home runs per nine innings than all but five teams, despite playing home games in a pitcher-friendly Citi Field.

They are one of six clubs whose starting staff has an ERA over 5.00, and it does not look much better when you try and adjust for defense.

The group has a 4.95 FIP and a .310 batting average on balls in play.

Cohen, who indicated manager Buck Showalter and general manager Billy Eppler’s jobs are safe for the time being, expects things to get better.

“When things get this bad, you almost feel like it’s got to mean revert back to something more normal,” he said. “I suspect that’s what’s going to happen. The results are the results. It’s not good. I think the players, the front office, everybody knows it.

“They get it. They’re all working hard.”

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