It felt like old times again.
After grinding through two months, Jacob deGrom became the deGrominator yesterday. As in dominating and overpowering opponents.
deGrom gave up a run on five hits in seven innings while striking out 10 in the Mets’ frustrating 2-1 loss in 13 innings to the White Sox at Citi Field. He received a no-decision in this contest.
To make sure it was really like old times, he was pitching with no room for error. That means he had to make due with just working with one run all day.
With the way deGrom was going, the thought was he could get by with a 1-0 lead. It never happened. He gave up a game-tying home run to Todd Frazier in the seventh inning.
This loss and this offensive performance by the hitters should not cloud’s one thinking. Fans should look at the big picture, which is getting deGrom back to his dominant self. There’s no question the Mets are thrilled with this development, especially deGrom.
This season has not been easy for the Mets pitching star so far. He has struggled to find the strike zone. He has been in jams often. He labors every inning instead of having a nine-pitch inning as he did yesterday often.
Prior to his start against the Dodgers, deGrom gave up an average of 5.7 hits per game. Granted to his credit, he gave up 2.4 runs per game in those seven starts he made this season. He averaged six innings per game when he was out on the mound as a result of him laboring. He often looked fatigued.
Maybe it was pitching too many innings last year for the first time in his career. Maybe he needed time to get in baseball shape. Something was amiss for sure.
SNY Mets color analyst Ron Darling mentioned deGrom had to know how to harness his body in a long season. Maybe deGrom had to pitch through it.
Give deGrom credit. Unlike Matt Harvey, he knows how to grind it out and get out of jams. It’s why he was able to get by without his best stuff so far this season.
Despite not pitching like last year, deGrom is still efficient. It’s good enough for him to be 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while hitters are hitting .241 against him.
It’s just that everyone expects him to overpower opponents when he is out there on the mound. He has done that the last two years. This season, he has been more of a finesse pitcher. His control and command has helped him grind through some outings so far.
Yesterday was different. He was dominating from the first inning. He had his fastball and slider working, and it was good enough to strike out Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu to start the game. He was able to get out of the first inning by throwing 16 pitches.
He averaged 15.7 pitches per inning in the seven innings he pitched yesterday.
He was able to go deep into the game for the second start in a row. He was still throwing at 92 mph in the seventh inning.
What stood out was how comfortable he was out on the mound. It was something that couldn’t be said in some of his starts this year, especially the game at Coors Field. He looked like he was in pain at times. He sure looked fatigued then.
With the way deGrom pitched yesterday, he could have gone for a complete game.
Then the seventh inning happened. He gave up a leadoff home run to Frazier to tie the game. He never could dominate after that. He was able to get by in that inning after he gave up a double to Brett Lawrie and walked J.B. Shuck. It helped that Curtis Granderson had a good eye on the ball to get Tyler Saladino to fly out. He was able to finish the inning by striking out Alex Avila out.
He was done for the day. He threw 18 pitches in the seventh inning, which was the highest pitches he threw in an inning in this game. He knew he had nothing left anymore.
He did all he could. All in a day’s work.
He was coming off a great performance against the Dodgers, which he gave up a run on three hits in seven innings while striking out seven. Now, he followed that start by pitching well against the White Sox.
If there is anything we can learn from deGrom’s last two starts, it’s that it’s a long season. Players pace themselves. For some, it may take until the summer for pitchers or hitter to come into their own.
That’s something we can take note when we look at Harvey’s struggles.
Even Harvey can learn something from what deGrom’s last two starts.
It’s not about how hard a pitcher throws when times are tough. It’s how a pitcher navigates through struggles in a long season.
deGrom showed once again why he is great at his craft.