Trying to earn rotation spot in Harvey's place, Mets righty walks 5, allows 5 runs
By Troy Provost-Heron
NEW YORK -- Before the Mets' 6-1 loss to the Nationals at Citi Field on Saturday, manager Terry Collins did not hesitate when asked about the key for Logan Verrett.
"It's all about location with Logan," Collins said. "He has three good pitches and when he is locating them, he gets outs. If you are a hitter and you can eliminate one of those three pitches to look for, he's going to get hurt. But if you're up there and you don't know what's coming, he'll have success."
Pitching in place of Matt Harvey, who will undergo season-ending surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, Verrett flashed both sides of Collins' description. The right-hander tossed a season-high 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on four hits and five walks while striking out three.
Of the Nationals' five runs against Verrett, four reached base on walks.
"That's the difference in the game," Collins said. "He's the type of pitcher that when he's right, his command is good and he doesn't walk guys. Tonight it came back to hurt him."
Verrett walked Bryce Harper to lead off the second inning, and the Nationals' All-Star scored on a sacrifice fly by Clint Robinson two batters later. In the third, Verrett started the inning the same way, walking Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, who scored from first on a Ben Revere triple on the ensuing at-bat.
From there, though, the 26-year-old Verrett managed to settle down and retire eight of the next nine batters he faced.
"The command was better," Verrett said. "I got into a little bit more of a rhythm and a groove and was attacking the strike zone better -- allowing them to put the ball in play and let the defense work behind me."
A two-out walk to Jayson Werth in the fifth, however, proved costly as former Met Daniel Murphy then doubled to deep center to extend the Nationals' lead to 4-1.
Two innings later, Verrett walked Werth once again, putting an end to his night. Three pitches later, Murphy homered off reliever Antonio Bastardo.
"Almost everybody I walked tonight scored," Verrett said. "I can't let that happen. No excuses."
As the Mets look for a long-term option in Harvey's absence, Verrett will need to put together better performances if he wants to remain in the starting rotation. In six starts this season, he is 1-4 with a 5.64 ERA.
Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.