Mets manager Buck Showalter knows that a Carlos Carrasco start has progressed well when the veteran right-hander starts to hide from him.
And after the sixth inning Wednesday, Carrasco didn’t want to exit the game.
So he hid in the bathroom.
That’s where Showalter and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner eventually tracked down Carrasco and informed him that his outing, in fact, was done after six innings, six hits, one run, four strikeouts and a walk.
Carrasco earned his second victory in three starts since returning from the injured list Wednesday, in the Mets’ 4-1 win over the Phillies.
Showalter said he thought Carrasco’s fastball was the best he had seen it in their two seasons working together.
“My elbow was OK [earlier in the season], and now it’s back to normal,” said Carrasco, who went on the injured list on April 18 with right elbow inflammation. “It’s feeling really good. … I just want to continue to pitch this way for the whole season.”
Carrasco has allowed just two runs in 12 ²/₃ innings across his last two starts, which followed a five-runs-in-five-innings disaster in his return from the IL on May 19.
He surrendered 18 runs over his first 18 ²/₃ innings in 2023.
The 36-year-old allowed a baserunner in all but one inning Wednesday, but he relied on his fastball and changeup to strand runners.
Carrasco said he felt relieved when his first pitch to Bryson Stott, a fastball, clocked at 95 mph on the Citi Field radar gun.
In the first inning, he followed up a single from Bryce Harper by striking out Nick Castellanos.
When Brandon Marsh doubled in the second, Carrasco got Kody Clemens to fly out and end the inning.
The Phillies got their only run when Edmundo Sosa homered to lead off the third inning.
But after Stott followed with a single, Carrasco recorded three consecutive outs.
He strung together a 1-2-3 fourth, including his fourth strikeout when a curve spun past Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto.
“You can tell his arm’s moving freer and his tempo’s better,” Showalter said.
Carrasco became the latest sign that the Mets’ rotation has started to stabilize.
Their series-opening victory over the Phillies on Tuesday, when Kodai Senga allowed one hit over seven innings, was another.
Over the next two days, they’ll gets starts from Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
When Showalter compares the Mets to other teams, he analyzes a lineup’s final three hitters, the relievers not intended for high-leverage situations and the fourth and fifth starters.
Carrasco, since his return, has helped the Mets’ rotation inch closer to becoming whole — and becoming stronger in one of Showalter’s key areas near the bottom of the rotation.
“I’d like to think it bodes well for the future,” Showalter said.