The Mets must split in Kansas City, and it’s in the hands of Jacob deGrom
13 hours later, the sting of that Game 1 loss is still rather fresh.
But as the Mets have done time and time again in 2015, they’ve proven to be as resilient as any team in baseball in 2015. And as they’ve been able to do all year and as recently as Game 5 in the NLDS against the Dodgers, they will place their faith in Jacob deGrom on Wednesday night in Game 2, who was given an extra day of rest by Terry Collins and the coaching staff over concerns of fatigue for their ace right-hander.
But as he’s always done when the manager has felt he’s been fatigued, deGrom scoffed at that notion, and insisted he was just having trouble locating his pitches.
“I didn’t feel fatigued out there,” deGrom explained on Tuesday. “I just felt I was having trouble locating, which happened to me early on this year. I don’t know if it was fatigue. I feel good now, so I don’t think the rest hurt me.”
While the Mets aren’t exactly bleeding, going home in an 0-2 hole in the World Series would be far from ideal. But that’s where deGrom comes in, and he has been tremendous all year long in games following a loss.
The right-hander went 7-4 with a 1.83 ERA in 12 starts following a team loss in 2015.
But like Harvey, deGrom will be challenged by the Royals’ aggressive nature at the plate and their ability to handle a lively fastball.
“I know they put the ball in play a lot. A team that doesn’t strike out a whole bunch,” deGrom said on Tuesday. “I think my job is to keep the ball down. I always say I try to go out there and get early contact, and strikeouts just seem to happen. That’s going to be my same game plan going into this.”
If deGrom was doing his homework on Tuesday with Matt Harvey on the mound, he now knows Kansas City will have no problem with 95 mph and up, and is expecting the fastball early in the count.
Recall, Alcides Escobar’s inside-the-park home run which should have been caught was a first-pitch fastball, well hit into the left-center field gap.
DeGrom will still have to trust his fastball, however, and like Harvey, pitch backwards and keep the Royals guessing at which time he might throw his fastball.
He will also be making his fourth start on the road during the postseason – he has yet to start a game at home since the conclusion of the regular season.
But that’s ok with deGrom, who has enjoyed disappointing opposing crowds.
“I’ve actually enjoyed pitching on the road in the postseason,” he said. “You go out there and you’re getting booed and it’s fun to try to silence the crowd.”
He will be tasked with doing just that once again, living up to his reputation as a bulldog ace and carrying his team home with a split in Kansas City.