Jacob deGrom was just what the doctor ordered for the Mets on Sunday…
Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest for the newly-crowned National League Eastern Division champion New York Mets, but the game held some import in a number of areas none the less.
Sure, the games no longer matter in the National League East, but the Mets are playing to hopefully earn home field advantage in the Division Series, which begins next Friday.
But it was also significant for Jacob deGrom, who was skipped in his last scheduled start against the Braves after five very un-Jacob-deGrom-like starts dating back to the end of August, during which he allowed 19 earned runs in 26 innings, including four home runs.
And on Sunday, deGrom once again resembled the pitcher the Mets absolutely need him to be, hurling six innings while allowing only a run on five hits with nine strikeouts, following in the footsteps of Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey not allowing a walk in his outing.
“They not only have good arms, they throw strikes,” manager Terry Collins said. “You add those two things together, they’re hard to hit with that kind of stuff they have.”
DeGrom once again had the electricity back on his fastball, as it was consistently in the mid-90s and the Reds took a lot of blind swings against the pitch throughout the afternoon.
But that wasn’t necessarily the key to his success.
DeGrom really emphasized both his change-up and slider, each of which was filthy and devastating for the Reds on Sunday. He induced 11 swings-and-misses on the 30 change-ups he threw, and only allowed one hit on 43 change-ups and sliders combined on Sunday.
“We worked on my change-up in between these starts,” deGrom explained. “I used that a lot today.”
Collins said after the game pitching coach Dan Warthen implored deGrom to use his change-up a lot more in this start. But aside from that, deGrom said he needed to make adjustments with his delivery, similar to the ones he made in the early part of the season when he struggled.
“I was just staying over the rubber more, instead of rushing out,” deGrom explained about his adjustments after Sunday’s win. “I was on top of the ball and kept balls down today.”
Keeping the ball down had been difficult for deGrom over the last month, evident by the four home runs he had allowed in those five starts.
But after resting and making his adjustments, deGrom executed almost flawlessly against the Reds.
He was filthy. And that served as a breath of fresh air and relief for both deGrom and the Mets as he begins to prepare for what will likely be a game one start in the Division Series.
“I am definitely looking forward to it,” deGrom said about pitching in the playoffs. “I think it will be fun and I think everybody in here is looking forward to that.”
Collins felt last week deGrom was showing signs of fatigue, whether he admitted to it or not, and that skipping him would be in the best interests of both deGrom and the club, especially now that they’re certain to play in the postseason in 2015.
“I thought skipping him was the right thing to do, and I think today showed it worked out on our behalf,” Collins explained. “As much as you want to run your best pitchers out there on a consistent basis in September, I just thought he needed a break. … I think the rest helped him.”
Of course, deGrom wouldn’t admit to needing a rest, but acknowledged he felt good on Sunday.
“I don’t know necessarily if it was a good thing or not, but I felt good out there today,” deGrom said.
It looks like the Mets pressed the right button yet again. And it was just what the doctor ordered.