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May 22

Jacob deGrom: the One-Hit Oneder

The last time the Mets won a series outright against a team with a record above .500 was the three game sweep of Atlanta to cap their 11-game winning streak.  Since matching the best start in franchise history at 13-3, the Mets have gone 10-15 while being outscored 80 to 95.  My math isn’t necessarily the best, but 80 runs amounts to an average of 3.2 runs scored per game, and even that modest figure sounds like an offensive dynamo compared to the nightly no-shows by the team’s “hitters.”  In those 25 games since April 23rd (the last game of the Atlanta series) the Mets have scored three or fewer runs 17 times.  They’ve been shut out four times and scored one run four times.

I guess what I’m trying to say is if it takes Jacob deGrom tossing eight innings of one-hit ball to earn a split with the St. Louis Cardinals, the team with the best record in the NL, then I guess that’s what needs to happen.  deGrom was brilliant on Thursday afternoon, hitting the corners with a fourseamer that topped out at 97 and mixing in his slider and a sharp breaking curve that fooled Kolten Wong in the third.  His best pitch, and one that reminded me of when deGrom was at his best last season, was a knee-high fourseamer to Matt Adams in the first.1 The pitch touched black on the outside corner and was impossible to do anything with.  deGrom worked the corners all day, striking out Jhonny Peralta twice on fastballs that just nicked the outside corner (a rather generous call on Peralta’s strikeout in the first led to him swinging at that same pitch for a strikeout in the fourth).

Over the last four to five starts, deGrom’s motion looked off.  He appeared to be slinging the ball more across his body, which in turn elevated his pitches.2  In the four starts prior to his start against Milwaukee, deGrom allowed 24 hits in 22 1/3 innings, surrendering five home runs in the process.  He’d also allowed a slash line of .276/.350/.460 to opposing batters in those games. Well, he did significantly better than that Thursday, and in his last two games, he’s allowed six hits in 14 innings while striking out 17. His game score of 91 yesterday was the second highest of the season (behind only Corey Kluber’s brilliance) and the only other game score reaching into the 90s. It was also the first time this season a Mets starter has struck out 10 or more batters, something deGrom did four times last year.

Last season left-handed batters hit a lowly .193 against deGrom’s fourseamer with an ISO of .102.  This season the batting average is lower, .167, but the ISO is .214. This is the point where i state that an ISO above .200 is considered great—for hitters, not deGrom. He’s allowed three homeruns (thanks Mark Texeira) to left-handed batters while last season he allowed two in over twice as many at-bats. That’s just on his fastball.  Lefties are feasting on every other offering as well.  When he throws a lefty a change up there’s a 50/50 shot the batter is ending up on first. Yikes. One of the reasons why is he wasn’t keeping the ball down.

deGrom_2015_LHThe image shows deGrom’s fastball to left-handers this season. Notice all that red up and outside? He’s also been hitting a lot of the plate. Where he hasn’t been notably effective is that low and outside pitch.

Here’s the same image from 2014:

deGrom_2014_LHIn 2014 he was hitting that outside corner at the knees with more regularity and also missing outside, middle down. He wasn’t elevating his pitches. Let’s hope that the deGrom that showed up yesterday with his location stays around a while.

Other notes:

Maybe it’s not surprising to you (it wasn’t to me), but yesterday was the first time Juan Lagares walked more than once in a game this season. Considering he’d walked five times all season, that’s not shocking. It’s good to see Lagares take some pitches. The criticism against Lagares has always been his chasing breaking balls in the dirt, and he’s still doing that this season. One way to prevent that, though, is work his way into hitter’s counts.

Lucas Duda hitting two home runs in the game is the second time a player on the Mets has hit multiple home runs in a game this year.  Anthony Recker hit two homers against the Cubs way back on May 14th in a 6-5 loss.  Over the last two years, the Mets have had seven games where a player has two or more (nobody on the team has hit three homeruns in a game in that span, and the last Met to do so was Ike Davis in 2012) and Duda has three of those games.

  1. This is the moment when you pause, watch the video below, and try to imagine hitting that fastball to Adams.
  2. I would do neat things like show animated gifs to prove this point if I actually had a laptop that wasn’t complete garbage. Sigh. I never believed the stories that Windows 8.1 was all that bad until buying a laptop with this horrid OS installed. I hate using it and refuse to put in any extra effort struggling through simple things like, oh, using the internet. WTH? Does anyone like this product? Maybe it’s because I primarily work with Red Hat Linux at work, but I find doing anything in 8.1 onerous and needlessly difficult. There’s a reason why things like networks and databases should be installed on Unix-bases operating systems. They work. I can’t wait until my MacBook arrives. I should have just spent the extra money up front for a quality product.

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