The struggling Mets received another dose of optimism on Sunday when Jacob deGrom, the team’s co-ace who was sidelined all season, knocked out five of the six hitters he faced in a rehab start for the team. Class A St. Lucie.
Eighteen of deGrom’s 24 jumps went on strike, with his fastball exceeding 100mph. He hit the only hitter he didn’t take out.
Combine these advances with Max Scherzer’s expected return from the injury list this week and the Mets launch staff could finally become what General Manager Billy Eppler envisioned this off-season. The team will need all the help they can get, given the poor performance of their attack in recent weeks.
“I felt like I was in control of everything,” deGrom told reporters after the start on Sunday. “The main thing was to try to locate the fastball and throw it. Everything was fine “.
Far more important than deGrom’s results in his six-batter appearance, he said, was his shoulder, which sidelined him from spring training due to a stress reaction in his shoulder blade, which was not. limiting.
“It feels 100 percent,” he said. “Because it was bone, you can’t really push it. I had to wait for the bone to heal and move on from there. “
Despite the strong exit and lack of pain, deGrom should need several minor league starts before returning to the majors.
The Mets have got off to a great start this season and, even with a severe downturn in attack, have maintained their lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. This is despite Scherzer having only started eight games and with deGrom not having started a major league game since July 7 last season.
Crucial to that first half were the strong seasons of Taijuan Walker (6-2, 2.72 ERA) and David Peterson (5-1, 3.24), who helped offset the injuries not only of deGrom and Scherzer, but also of Tylor Megill, a right-handed who had some promising results earlier this season before landing on the injury list with a strained shoulder. Chris Bassitt, a 2021 All-Star with Oakland who was acquired in a spring training swap, was placed on the injury list on July 1, but the lack of injury designation suggested his may be a coronavirus-related absence rather than something wrong with its swing arm.
Scherzer and deGrom may also need more help than the Mets batters have been providing in recent weeks. After winning two out of three at home in a weekend streak against the Texas Rangers, the Mets are still 29th in the majors by hit rate (.639) in the past 15 days, with only the Oakland Athletics under them. . Pete Alonso continued to perform, but nearly every other hit in the Mets suffered a severe dip, none more so than Mark Canha, a veteran winger acquired this off-season, who is 3 for his last 34.
If the Mets hope to keep Atlanta at bay, which as it did last season is growing after a rough start, the health of the pitch and a return to form for the team’s batters will be crucial.