The Mets need a lift tonight, and if there’s anyone who can provide one, it’s Jacob deGrom. Hate to say it this early, but this is a must-win.
The Mets are reeling, losers of three straight and seven of their last ten. A return to Citi Field where they are 11-5 didn’t help, dropping a one-run game to the lowly Colorado Rockies.
Almost miraculously, though, the Mets hold on to a one-game lead in today’s National League East Standings.
Searching for a ray of hope before last night’s game, Mets GM Zack Scott searched but couldn’t find any, reporting that both Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeill have serious hamstring injuries. Their return is now penciled in for the end of June and perhaps even into July.
To add the proverbial insults to injuries, Dominic Smith leads the regulars with a .236 batting average, Francisco Lindor is still a no-show (.189 with only 28 base hits in 40 games), while James McCann, who began the season as the Mets regular catcher has given way to Tomas Nido, due to lack of production.
Mets: Is That Kettle Black Enough?
Can it get any worse? Yes, it can if Jacob deGrom doesn’t pitch the Mets to a win tonight.
A month ago, deGrom would simply be taking his regular turn in the rotation, and little, if any of the drama would be necessary – except to wonder if that start was to be his first no-hitter.
But tonight is no ordinary start for deGrom, pitching for the first time since May 9 when he removed himself from a game against the Arizona Diamondback, having worked only five innings with discomfort in his right side.
Both the Mets and deGrom insist it’s all systems go, but that is based on a brief rehab outing in Port St. Lucie, raising concern about his stamina after not pitching at this level for so long.
The good news, of course, is that deGrom is a player’s player. He knows his body well and is not likely he will overextend himself – but it’s still a mental game for him as well as every Mets player who takes the field tonight.
Thus the battle for deGrom is to stay within himself. Easier said than done, though, when he knows full well how much his team is counting on him to be the stopper tonight, before handing the ball off to Marcus Stroman to keep the line moving tomorrow.
Stroman, the right-hander, is coming off one of his best starts of the month — six innings, two runs, and eight strikeouts in a no-decision against the Marlins.
It’s Still About The Hitting, Or Lack Thereof
But as we know, this is not about the Mets starting pitching – it about their inability to score runs. Even last night, when James Peterson gave the Rockies an early three-run lead, the Mets could only muster up two runs on four measly hits, diving them deeper to the bottom in team runs scored with 140 in forty games, and your math will tell you that’s slightly more than three runs per game.
With tongue in cheek (?), several readers offered comments on yesterday’s column to the effect that it’ll probably be deGrom who leads the team with his bat as well as his arm tonight (he’s 7-15, a .467 clip with two RBI, and a 1.000 OPS).
But this much we know. As Mets players file into the clubhouse in a few hours, there’ll be an extra bounce in their step, anticipating (I’ll go ahead and say it) that the best pitcher in baseball today is on their side, and he’s pitching tonight…
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Frank Mele It’s not a must-win It would be a good win
Ray Bart He needs to throw a complete-game shutout and hit a home run. Easy peasy
Joseph Profeta Not a must-win but hopefully, the Mets give him 3 runs of support tonight.
Deborah Crane PLEEEZ GET SOME HITS!
Bertram Miller Every time deGrom & Stroman pitch at this point is getting very close to a must-win because they are capable of throwing 7 shutout or one-run innings – and that’s about the only way the Mets have a shot to win a game at this point, with their current lineup.
Ray Hernandez They better hope deGrom comes through tonight because my Marlins are lurking around, just one game out of 1st place.
Heidi Stout Sadly, Jake can only control what happens on the mound once he takes it. What happens at the plate lies in the hands of others. Will his return be the inspiration they need? We’ll find out tonight. Fingers crossed.
Art Scott We can tell deGrom exactly what Grote used to tell Seaver… “if you pitch a shutout, I guarantee you at LEAST a tie!”
Sheldon Forman DeGrom is back but the team will be challenged to score runs for him. We have 18 players on the IL and we have DeGrom coming off today.