The names have changed and so has the perception of the team, but once again, Jacob deGrom saw another gem of a start that should have been a win squandered on the New York Mets’ delayed Opening Day on Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies.
New York’s ace went six innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just three hits with seven strikeouts, and two walks before he was pulled after just 77 pitches with the Mets nursing a 2-0 lead.
After Miguel Castro got through the seventh inning, the newly-acquired Trevor May loaded the bases before Aaron Loup — another newcomer — hit Bryce Harper to force in a run, and yielded a JT Realmuto single to tie the game before Alec Bohm’s grounder to Luis Guillorme was thrown wide at home to break things open in the 5-3 loss.
It was the 31st time that the Mets bullpen blew a victory opportunity for deGrom, who put up the 86th start in his career in which he allowed one or fewer runs.
Under usual circumstances, the veteran righty and two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is trotted out for at least seventh inning, if not the eighth depending on more conventional pitch counts. But the Mets’ delayed start to the 2021 season prompted by the Washington Nationals’ COVID outbreak threw a wrench into those plans.
“It came down to the six ups,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said after claiming before the game that deGrom had a 100-pitch limit. “You saw the activity on the bases and he hadn’t thrown in 10 days. The conversations in between innings with him led us to the decision to pull him.
“We wanted to win this one tonight by all means. He’s coming back on Saturday. He was probably way under than his build-up… I thought there was an agreement between everyone when we got to that spot after six.”
Rojas’ decision was backed up by deGrom, who agreed that pulling him that early was the right decision.
“If that was Thursday [the Mets’ originally-scheduled Opening Day] and I was on normal rest, I don’t think there’s any chance I’m coming out of that game,” he said. “It felt like that was the right decision… When you don’t face hitters for that many games, you don’t tend to feel that crisp on the mound. I felt like I was getting out of my delivery a little bit.”
The 32-year-old admitted that he was having some problems with his mechanics, most notably that he was “flying open,” but it was still good enough to extend his Opening Day shutout streak to 17 innings.
deGrom is expected to return to the bump on Saturday on just four day’s rest to face the Miami Marlins in what will be the Mets’ second home game of the season.