NEW YORK -- With Jacob deGrom on a historic run, the Mets aren’t about to mess with him.
The team is skipping Jason Vargas' next start so that both deGrom and Noah Syndergaard can pitch Tuesday and Wednesday against the Twins. That will keep those two on a regular routine, preventing them from pitching on two extra days of rest.
Last year, deGrom had a 1.49 ERA on regular rest, a 1.81 mark on five days’ rest and a 2.60 ERA with six days or more.
The casualty of the decision is Vargas, who will not pitch again until next Saturday in Atlanta. The Mets plan to skip the left-hander’s rotation spot entirely, going back to Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler after deGrom and Syndergaard. The moves line deGrom up to start the nationally-televised Sunday Night Baseball game against the Braves on April 14.
Vargas, whom the Mets skipped and pushed back on multiple occasions last season, was hit hard in his season debut but limited the damage to two runs in five innings. deGrom, of course, has been consistently stellar; he’s riding a career-best run of 26 consecutive scoreless innings.
Nearly forgotten amidst the Mets’ home run barrage Saturday was Jeurys Familia’s eighth-inning performance, allowing two home runs to turn a 3-0 lead into a 5-3 deficit. The Mets’ comeback in the bottom of the inning resulted in a win for Familia, who became the second Mets reliever this decade to earn a victory in a game in which he allowed two home runs. (The other, Tom Gorman, did so in 1985).
Consider it a symptom of a larger issue for the Mets, whose bullpen has produced a 4.85 ERA through eight games.
“I’m not too worried about that,” manager Mickey Callaway said, of Familia’s performance in particular. “That’s probably not going to happen very often.”
From the trainer’s room
Jeff McNeil’s sore knee continued to bother him enough on Saturday that the Mets took precautions. McNeil was out of the starting lineup for the second time in three games due in part to the issue, though he appeared as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning Saturday. The Mets are hopeful that his half-day of rest, combined with Friday’s off-day, will have McNeil at full strength again by Sunday.
In loving memory
Late Mets public relations staffer Shannon Forde is the recipient of the Yogi Berra Museum’s annual Carmen Berra Award, to be presented April 11 at a dinner in Manhattan.
Blast from the past
Sitting in the Mets’ dugout Saturday morning, Turk Wendell wore a Mets alumni jacket featuring a unique logo: a drawing of Shea Stadium and Citi Field meshed into one. Wendell and Rick Reed were in town on an invitation from Mets vice president of alumni public relations Jay Horwitz, who has worked tirelessly to bring former players back into the Mets community.
“He’s been really the guy behind all this,” Wendell said.
Mostly, Horwitz’s first six months on the job have focused on the 1969 Mets, with a 50th anniversary reunion planned for June. But Horwitz, the Mets’ former media relations director, has also reached out to Mets players from all eras. Wendell and Reed both played in New York from 1997-2001, appearing in the ’99 and ’00 postseasons.
“What an exciting time,” Reed said.
“For me as a player, I think it helped a lot coming to this city,” added Wendell. “The fans, they want you to win. For me, as a player, it pushed me to work hard every day to be the best player I could be … It really pushes your game to a higher level, so you have to really make sure you’re at your highest level every day. You have to work super, super hard.”
These days, both former pitchers are taking things easy in retirement. Wendell appears annually at the Mets’ fantasy camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and has kept busy tracking his son Wyatt’s collegiate pitching career. Reed plays golf when he’s not shuttling his daughter to horseback riding competitions, or his son to travel basketball games.
“I haven’t had a baseball in my hands in I don’t know how long,” Reed said, laughing. “Ten years, 15 years maybe? God, those days are done. I like this better. No pressure.”