BALTIMORE — The Mets have a David Peterson problem.
After helping to hold together the team’s rotation last season as a rookie during the 60-game sprint, the left-hander has turned into a rotation liability, for which there isn’t an easy fix.
On Tuesday he got knocked out in the third inning after allowing four runs, and the Mets never recovered in a 10-3 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards that snapped their two-game winning streak.
Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker have been horses in the Mets’ rotation, and Joey Lucchesi has shown recent improvement, but the 25-year-old Peterson is headed in the wrong direction.
A demotion to Triple-A Syracuse or bullpen stint might be the best course of action for Peterson, but the Mets are already short on starting pitching — with Noah Syndergaard, Carlos Carrasco and Jordan Yamamoto among the names on the injured list. It could be time for the Mets to consider their only other starting pitcher on the 40-man roster, left-hander Thomas Szapucki, who has pitched to a 2.08 ERA in 11 appearances for Syracuse.
But the immediate plan, according to manager Luis Rojas, is to keep Peterson in the rotation.
“We need to get him right. We need David Peterson,” Rojas said. “Lucchesi made adjustments and now he is giving us some innings, and I think Peterson can do the same thing.”
In a second straight clunker, Peterson lasted just 2 ²/₃ innings and allowed four earned runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk, boosting his ERA to 6.32. It followed a start in Arizona in which Peterson was knocked out in the first inning, charged for five earned runs on three hits and three walks. Peterson fell to 0-3 with a 7.90 ERA in his seven road starts this season.
“I just think we’re going through a rough patch right now, coming to the ballpark every day and trying to get better and trying to straighten this thing out,” Peterson said.
“My slider is something that has been more inconsistent than in the past, but that is something we have been working on, and I feel like we are moving in the right direction with it.”
Peterson was handed a first-inning lead on Pete Alonso’s two-run homer. Francisco Lindor walked in the inning before Alonso crushed a 91 mph fastball from Bruce Zimmermann.
But Peterson had a stressful bottom of the inning, after Trey Mancini’s grounder off James McCann’s glove at first base went for a single and Anthony Santander walked. Peterson appeared to escape on an inning-ending double play, but Ryan Mountcastle was ruled safe at first and the call stood on replay. Peterson rebounded to retire Galvis.
The Orioles jumped on Peterson in the second inning after he had navigated a threat in the first. Pat Valaika stroked a two-run double for the Orioles’ third hit in the inning. Before the inning was complete Cedric Mullins delivered another double, giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead.
In the third, Freddy Galvis doubled and Pedro Severino reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners. Valaika then finished Peterson’s night with a line-drive double over Dominic Smith’s head in left.
“It’s just a repetition of the mistakes kept happening and led to another short outing for [Peterson]” Rojas said. “I look forward to the next start in that we’ve seen Petey being successful and going through lineups one, two and three times with the stuff that he has. He just has to find the command that he needs.”
Maikel Franco’s three-run homer against Robert Gsellman extended the Orioles’ lead to 8-2 in the fifth. The rocket was the sixth in the history of this ballpark to reach the second deck in left field. Alonso had accomplished the feat during the Mets’ visit here last September.
Alonso homered again in the ninth for the first multi-homer game by a Mets player this season — and the eighth of Alonso’s career.