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David Peterson isn’t backing down from Mets rotation challenge

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David Peterson got an appetizer of pitching in the major leagues last season.

Now the Mets’ left-hander is chasing the main course.

After Peterson impressed over nine starts in the shortened 2020 season, thrown into action following injuries to Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman, he is set to compete for a spot in the Mets’ rotation for 2021.

“For me, I want to come in here and do my thing and let the rest take care of itself,” Peterson said Saturday on a Zoom call from Port St. Lucie. “However I can help the team win, that’s what I’m here to do. I’m ready to go and excited to be back in camp and ready to compete and get after it.”

The Mets’ pitching depth got even stronger Friday when they signed Taijuan Walker, adding him to a rotation that already includes Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Carlos Carrasco. That leaves one spot — unless the Mets go to a six-man rotation, which manager Luis Rojas has alluded to — for the likes of Peterson, Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto.

In the meantime, Peterson has arrived at camp looking to build off last season. He skipped over Triple-A to get the call to the big leagues in 2020, opening plenty of eyes with a 3.44 ERA while going 6-2 with 40 strikeouts and 24 walks in 49 ²/₃ innings.

Mets
Mets pitcher David Peterson.
N.Y. Mets

“I think there’s a lot to take away,” the 25-year-old Peterson said. “There were some good moments, definitely some moments that gave me confidence. Plenty of lessons learned along the way. I thought there was a good opportunity for me, as a rookie and a young guy, that had come up from Double-A, to talk to the veterans and learn as much as I could from the guys we had on the team last year.”

Peterson made his debut at Fenway Park in the fifth game of the season, picking up the win after giving up two runs across 5 ²/₃ innings. He finished off his season in style, tossing seven innings of one-run ball against the Nationals — which came after a 10-strikeout performance against the Braves.

“We’re very proud of the job he did last year,” Rojas said. “The kind of call he got, immediate challenge, it seemed that he was ready for it and never lost a beat. He told me that he worked really hard in the offseason. There’s some things, packing the zone and blending his pitches, sharpening his pitches. With his makeup — him and I talked about being humble and staying hungry and how smart he is. Those three virtues, we talked specifically [about]. Those are always going to help him to keep growing. That’s what he’s doing now.

“Competition is always going to be there, that’s just going to get the best out of you. So we talked to him in the language of competing for a spot in the rotation.”

Peterson, the Mets’ first-round pick out of Oregon in 2017, has never thrown more than 128 innings in a year, with his career-high coming in 2018 split between Low-A and High-A. After the shortened season last year, he tried to prepare for the long haul coming into this camp.

“I’ve never had a 162-game season, so for me, it’s getting myself prepared as best I can to take that challenge on this year,” Peterson said. “That’s something I want to do and I want to be able to help the team win every five days.

“Last year felt like a taste and I’m ready to get back and get going again.”

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