The first pitch David Peterson threw Wednesday went out faster than it came in.
It was 91.2 mph out of his hand and 112.2 mph off Christopher Morel’s bat.
The left-hander’s second start since he returned to the Mets’ rotation did not begin well, as he allowed Morel’s 427-foot home run on that initial pitch.
But, similar to what the Mets have seen out of him out of the bullpen since he was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse in late June, Peterson didn’t fold.
He kept the Mets in the game, fighting iffy command and some loud outs, and they found a way to win a series from the red-hot Cubs, taking the rubber game, 4-3, Wednesday night in front of 37.527 at Citi Field.
“A lot of people after a leadoff home run wouldn’t have survived mentally, emotionally,” manager Buck Showalter said of Peterson, who allowed two earned runs over 3 ²/₃ innings, as he continues to build up arm strength in his transition back to the rotation. “To strike out the side after that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.”
It has been a mostly disappointing year for the 27-year-old Peterson, who was a major flop, along with fellow depth starter Tylor Megill.
After a string of dismal starts in which Peterson allowed at least four earned runs in five consecutive outings, he was demoted to the minors.
He came back six weeks later — first as a starter, then a reliever and now a starter again — and has begun to find himself.
Across 30 innings pitched since his minor league stint, he has allowed just eight earned runs, a 2.40 ERA.
Walks have remained a problem — Peterson has given up 16 in that span — but he has struck out 29 and has yielded just two homers.
“A lot of it was really getting back to pitching like me and getting back to where I was at [by the end of last year,” Peterson said. “I went back, reverted back to some things mechanically and be able to get the slider back to where it needed to be. Executing that pitch has been huge.”
Peterson has a chance the rest of the way to prove himself and possibly pitch his way into at least being considered a rotation option next year.
The only givens right now appear to be Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana.
“We have people pitching well [in the minors],” Showalter said. “We like ‘Pete.’ We’re gonna run ‘Pete’ out there. It’s not because we don’t have other options. We think it would be good for him and good for the Mets if he finishes strong and gets back to where he was last year. That’s the plan.”