Mets 'waste' deGrom's stellar 14-K outing

April 10th, 2021

NEW YORK -- Following ’s season debut, in which he pitched six sparkling innings, recorded two hits and an RBI at the plate and watched the Mets lose despite all of it, reliever Trevor May bemoaned that “Jake shouldn’t have to do everything himself.”

The reality is he might. For an encore on Saturday, deGrom matched his career high with 14 strikeouts at Citi Field, limiting the Marlins to one run in eight innings. It wasn’t enough. The Mets recorded just three hits all afternoon in a 3-0 loss to the Marlins, sticking deGrom with an 0-1 record despite his 0.64 ERA through two starts.

“An outing like that,” manager Luis Rojas said, “you can call it a waste.”

Dominant early, deGrom struck out four of the first five batters he faced, three of them on 100-mph fastballs. But when he delivered another triple-digit heater to Jazz Chisholm Jr., the Marlins rookie parked it into the second deck in right field, which wound up being the difference in the game.

“It was actually more out of the zone than the first two that I threw to him that he swung through,” deGrom said. “He beat me to that spot and put them ahead early. After that, I just had to focus and keep it right there.”

deGrom did, of course, and it didn’t end up mattering, so pardon him if he’s sick of talking about this thing. Since 2018, when deGrom submitted one of the finest seasons in modern baseball history en route to the first of his back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards and the informal title of Best Pitcher on the Planet, he owns a 2.06 ERA.

The Mets have a losing record (36-42) in those games.

They’re aware of it. deGrom is aware of it. Even if he doesn’t know the particulars of such factoids -- and there are many, all driving at the same point -- deGrom knows he should have a better win-loss record than he does. Performances like Saturday’s should not end in defeats; to that end, deGrom joined James Shields as the only pitchers in Major League history to strike out 14 batters in a game, walk none, allow one run and lose.

Somehow, lose.

“He knows that we’re not trying to go out there and sabotage him,” Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo said. “He knows that we’re trying to pull for each other and the team to get a win. But it’s frustrating nonetheless.”

Nimmo, who served as one of the Mets’ few offensive bright points with a leadoff double (103.9 mph exit velocity, per Statcast) for the first of two well-struck balls, acknowledged it’s possible that Mets hitters press when it’s deGrom’s turn to pitch, considering how often this sort of thing has happened over the years. Following that double and a Chad Wallach fielding error in the first inning Saturday, the Mets had runners on the corners with no outs against Marlins lefty Trevor Rogers. Wallach subsequently threw out Lindor attempting to steal -- Rojas said he lightly chastised Lindor for the play during the game -- and the next two batters struck out to end the threat.

The Mets put only one man (deGrom, who singled in the sixth, once again doing it all himself) in scoring position the rest of the day, stranding him there when Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso struck out in succession. Conforto finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, deepening his season-opening slump as another sold-out, limited-capacity Citi Field crowd rained boos down upon him. Edwin Díaz became the recipient of more boos when he turned a one-run deficit into a three-run gap in the ninth.

It was hardly the scene the Mets envisioned for deGrom in his second start of the season, after he allowed zero runs and took a no-decision in his first. He now owns a 0.64 ERA, which has helped the Mets win precisely zero games.

Then again, these offensive woes haven’t been exclusive to deGrom. The Mets’ high-profile offense has scored three or fewer runs in four of their five contests so far this season, with an overall average of 3.2 runs per game that ranks in the bottom third of the NL.

On normal days, that sort of output can be maddening. On deGrom days, “a waste” might indeed be the most apt phrase.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been through this before, and it’s never easy,” Nimmo said. “I will say, Jake is a professional up to the fullest definition of the word. He never comes in and is upset with us. He always just wants to win, and he wants to try and put us in a position that we can win. So my hat’s off to Jake every single time. He never complains.”