Dodgers stifled by Mets' flame-throwing duo

September 1st, 2022

NEW YORK -- With little pressure behind them in the NL West, everything the Dodgers do over the next month will be focused on giving themselves the best chance to win a World Series.

During the much-anticipated three-game series against the Mets, the Dodgers have been looking to gather as much intel as possible in case they have to make another trip to New York during the postseason.

In the 2-1 loss to the Mets on Wednesday night at Citi Field, the Dodgers got a good look at two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and All-Star closer Edwin Díaz, who both reminded Los Angeles just how dominant they can be.

“[deGrom is] pretty much the best, maybe the best to ever pitch,” said Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts. “He’s a tough task. But we did alright.”

The Dodgers hadn’t faced deGrom since 2019, but it was clear from the jump why he’s in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches by a starter in Major League history. deGrom was pumping 102 mph fastballs in the first inning, pairing them with a curveball, slider and changeup mix, to keep the Dodgers’ lineup off balance.

Betts was the only one to get to deGrom, hitting his 32nd homer of the season in the sixth inning and tying his single-season career high. In the seventh, Justin Turner made a strong bid to tie the game, hitting one into deep center field, but Brandon Nimmo made a leaping catch to rob the potential game-tying homer.

The robbery allowed Díaz to run out to a live performance of his warm-up song “Narco” from Australian musician Timmy Trumpet and record his 29th save of the season with a clean ninth.

“You do what you can. Do everything right, then it’s out of your control,” Turner said. “It was a great play by Nimmo. Not a whole lot you can do about it.”

Postseason strategies are a whole different ballgame, but the Dodgers do feel they gathered some decent information against deGrom and Díaz despite the overall struggles on Wednesday.

deGrom worked off his four-seam and slider combo, which is common, but the right-hander also flashed a curveball and changeup, something he hasn’t done as often this season. The four-time All-Star had thrown 18 changeups and 12 curveballs across his first five starts this season. He threw nine changeups and five curveballs against the Dodgers.

“He went more 50-50 with his secondary versus the fastball tonight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s something that we need to keep in the back of our minds that, yeah, he can go to the secondary [pitches] if needed.”

Aside from getting a closer look at deGrom, the Dodgers also watched Tyler Anderson go toe-to-toe with arguably the best pitcher in the National League.

Anderson’s role in the postseason is something to watch over the last month of the regular season. Even with his stellar season, the Dodgers could ask Anderson to come out of the bullpen in October depending on the health of Tony Gonsolin and the other starters. Anderson’s playoff role could be similar to how the team deployed Julio Urías in each of the last two postseasons.

But with performances like Wednesday's, the Dodgers’ confidence in Anderson continues to grow, and he might be too valuable to not have in the rotation. On Wednesday, he matched deGrom with seven innings, but a two-run homer in the third by Starling Marte ultimately proved to be the difference.

“I just feel like every time, it’s one of those things where you want to go out there, you’ve got to throw strikes because you want to go deep in the game, because you know [deGrom is] going to,” Anderson said. “You’ve just got to try to limit mistakes, because he’s obviously a really good pitcher and a hard guy to score runs off [of].”

The first two games in New York have both come down to the last batter. The series has lived up to expectations. Gameplans might change in October, but the intensity at Citi Field has been similar to what the Dodgers hope to see in a month.

“It was a really good baseball game to be a part of,” Roberts said.