NEW YORK -- Unhappy with his results despite a 3.06 ERA over his first three starts, Jacob deGrom took time following the last one to review his mechanics. He called up tape of his last start, in which he allowed four runs over six innings in Miami, splicing it side-by-side
NEW YORK -- Unhappy with his results despite a 3.06 ERA over his first three starts, Jacob deGrom took time following the last one to review his mechanics. He called up tape of his last start, in which he allowed four runs over six innings in Miami, splicing it side-by-side with an outing from 2015. Almost immediately, deGrom noticed that his arm was dropping when he swung it behind him to begin his delivery.
The fix was relatively simple and "even just playing catch, it made a big difference," said deGrom, who struck out a dozen Nationals over 7 1/3 innings Monday, taking a no-decision in the Mets' 8-6 loss at Citi Field.
Facing a lineup missing injured stars Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton, deGrom fell into an early hole when Bryce Harper muscled a broken-bat homer over the right-center-field fence in the first inning. He responded by retiring the next 10 batters he faced in succession, striking out six of them.
At just 84 pitches through seven innings, deGrom returned to the mound for the eighth, but allowed singles to two of the three batters he faced. Manager Mickey Callaway removed him at that point for reliever Seth Lugo, who walked a batter. Jerry Blevins then allowed both of deGrom's outstanding baserunners to score on a Harper single, resulting in three earned runs on deGrom's line.
"He was great against a really good lineup over there," Callaway said. "If he continues pitching like that, we're going to win most of those games, like we should have tonight."
Until Monday, a Mets team built around starting pitching had not been quite as advertised. Mets starters had performed well enough over the season's first fortnight, entering Monday's play seventh in the league in ERA. But the Mets had rocketed out to the best start in franchise history more on the shoulders of their bullpen and lineup than on anything related to their rotation.
Only one Mets starter, Zack Wheeler, had even thrown a pitch in the seventh inning. That changed rather dramatically on a cold, windy night at Citi Field, when deGrom became the first Mets starter to appear in the eighth.
The team was glad for the effort, even if it didn't ultimately bear fruit.
"When you have your starting pitcher who's just dealing like that and he goes out for the eighth -- it shouldn't happen, but maybe guys shut down a little bit mentally," Callaway said of his bullpen. "And all of the sudden, things get out of control."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.