I’m now at the point that when Jacob deGrom starts (or any Mets starter for that matter) I don’t worry if the Mets will score or not. I don’t even particularly enjoy watching the team bat. I’d rather just watch them pitch, enjoying the 15 or so pitches that it normally takes for deGrom to dispatch the other team’s batters. I call it managing expectations.
Yesterday, deGrom was once again brilliant, sitting mostly 95 with his fourseamer but cranking it up to 97 when needed, staying out of the the middle of the zone, and mixing it up with an occasional off speed.
This chart downloaded from Fangraphs illustrates my point regarding deGrom locating his pitches. For the game, deGrom allowed four hits in eight innings while striking out seven, but that’s not an entirely accurate picture of his afternoon. He’d allowed one hit (a double to deep left by Hernan Perez in the third) through six, and early in the game I wondered if I might be witness to yet another no-hitter. What can I say? Watching the Nationals starters mow down batters has made me greedy, and my sense of fulfillment can come only from semi-historical events.
On Thursday I don’t recall too many breaking balls from deGrom. Maybe I’m wrong. I probably am. BrooksBaseball doesn’t have the game log information up yet for me to confirm, but other than the occasional slider out of the zone, deGrom mostly worked with his fastball and sinker, mixing in a change up from time to time. He rarely worked with men on base (evidenced by the one hit allowed up until the seventh) and at one point retired 13 straight. He worked out of a tough spot with two Brewers on in the seventh, and in the eighth, with his pitch count quickly nearing 100, he induced Perez to hit into a double play. Believe me, I summarized that in thirty or so words, but it took over three hours to get there. How can a game that involves only two runs take so long?
I spend so much time criticizing the Mets horrid, indifferent defense (with good reason), but the double play started by Ruben Tejada at third was particularly nice, with an equally competent turn at second by Dilson Herrera, and was much needed.1 Jeurys Familia came on to close out the ninth, and the Mets seven game losing streak is over.
For deGrom, it was his eighth straight start where he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer, and if not for Max Scherzer would be in all likelihood the front runner for the NL Cy Young. At the moment, he’s behind only Scherzer in the NL for fWAR with pitchers (at 2.8 to Scherzer’s 4.0) and is tied for fifth with Corey Kluber for the Major Leagues. Both traditional statistics and advanced metrics love him.
I can’t wait for all the articles to appear that argue that deGrom is the best draft pick out of that 2010 class (you know, the one with Matt Harvey) because it’s impossible to allow Harvey time to recoup. Also, I’m still trying to pretend that Brandon Nimmo might be awesome with Jose Fernandez due back soon.
At the plate, the Mets were sort of a mixed bag yesterday. They collected 10 hits, but they scored only two runs. It took four singles to score one run in the seventh, and while the inning started out with a deGrom single and it was his questionable base running skills that turned into station-to-station baseball, it was excruciating to watch. The coaches tried, though, to generate offense. Third base coach Tim Teufel was aggressive in sending runners (once where Michael Cuddyer was thrown out at the plate in the second and again in the sixth when Cuddyer scored) and twice the team attempted steals with both Curtis Granderson and Darrell Ceciliani being thrown out at second.
Granderson was clearly out, but Ceciliani was safe by two feet, easily. It was such an egregiously bad call by Larry Vanover that it still feels like he was just kidding. Terry Collins was tossed arguing that call (he couldn’t use his challenge because he’d lost it when he challenged the Cuddyer play at home in the second) and it’s tough to find fault with Collins there. Having the security blanket of the instant replay system shouldn’t be an excuse for horrible officiating, but that sort of seems what’s happening here. Umpires expect calls to be challenged, so they make a call that might impact the game least negatively. If it’s wrong? Oh well. Someone will challenge, and everything will be super.
The Brewers didn’t do anything particularly notable to the Mets batters on Thursday. They basically attacked the Mets with fastballs and curveballs, like they were facing a Little League team, and the Mets could do little with it. Poor Ruben Tejada whiffed so spectacularly on curveballs (twice) that I thought he might twist an ankle spinning into the ground, and Cecillani was the same against Corey Knebel in the eighth. Lucas Duda looked a mess. Duda saw the one changeup I remember seeing from Brewers starter Taylor Jungmann, but mostly he was given a steady diet of breaking pitches low in the zone and fastballs right on the inner black, and Duda looked confused by it all afternoon. His RBI single in the eighth off of Will Smith’s glove was like a gift from the baseball gods. Eventually something had to break right for this team, and an infield single was the gift.
Okay. I’ll take it.
Two runs shouldn’t feel like 20, but after the team scored but 10 on their eight game road trip2 it’s difficult to not see that as a bounty.
- In the Nats game, not but an hour or so later, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa turned a fantastic double play to end the fifth and keep the Nats starters’ scoreless innings streak alive. I didn’t pump my fist at that one. I expected the Nats to turn that play, and it was admittedly much more difficult. This is where I’m at with the Mets and the defense. Routine stuff is cause for celebration. ↩
- In comparison, the Nats scored nine in the first inning against the Pirates on Sunday. ↩