The Mets are rolling, but their rotation is not, and the return of Carlos Carrasco didn’t provide any boost to the staff Friday night, despite another thrilling win in Queens.
The right-hander made his first start since being sidelined with right elbow inflammation and added to the starting pitching woes in a 10-9, 10-inning win over Cleveland at Citi Field.
Facing his former team, Carrasco gave up a three-run homer to Josh Naylor in the top of the first and, although he pitched better after the blast, still allowed five runs in five innings.
“I made one mistake on the homer with a pitch in the middle [of the plate],” Carrasco said of the poor location of his two-seam fastball to the lefty-swinging Naylor. “I was trying to avoid that and get a ground ball.”
There were some encouraging signs. Carrasco said he felt better than he has all year.
“It was good to be able to finish my pitches,’’ Carrasco said. “I didn’t in the beginning of the season.”
It was Carrasco’s third poor outing in four starts and his ERA ballooned to 8.68.
That’s even worse than the 8.08 of young left-hander David Peterson, who was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse after his latest disaster.
The Mets also have gotten little out of their top two veteran right-handers, as Max Scherzer, who will start Saturday, has a 4.88 ERA and Justin Verlander’s isn’t much better at 4.76.
The last time Verlander pitched at Citi Field, he was booed off the mound.
Only Kodai Senga (3.77 ERA) and Tylor Megill (3.88) have pitched anything close to decent, and the Mets are running out of answers for how to fix the problem.
They entered Friday with a 5.29 ERA from their rotation.
Only five teams in the majors were worse.
Though rookies Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos have been called up from Triple-A Syracuse to spark the lineup, there’s no one waiting in the wings to bolster the rotation.
Joey Lucchesi is at Triple-A and threw six scoreless innings on Friday, but he had a 6.46 ERA in his last four outings with the Mets before he was optioned.
Before the game, manager Buck Showalter said he was hoping to see the version of Carrasco the Mets got for much of last year, when he was solid in the middle of the rotation.
But as with Peterson, that has been missing for much of this season.
The 36-year-old Carrasco also allowed a leadoff double to Myles Straw in the second and Straw scored on a Cam Gallagher single.
The right-hander retired the next seven batters, but a leadoff walk to Will Brennan in the fifth proved costly, as he scored on an Amed Rosario two-out single.
By then, the Mets were down 5-0, and although they stormed back later in the game on homers by Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and a grand slam from Pete Alonso, it’s hard to see them contending in the NL East unless they get more from their starters.