NEW YORK -- Mets starter Jacob deGrom still isn't right, but insists he's not hurt."Everything's fine," deGrom said, after the Mets' 6-4 loss to the Marlins on Thursday night at Citi Field.That's fine, except everything isn't fine. It wasn't fine when deGrom surrendered 25 hits over a two-start span, and
NEW YORK -- Mets starter Jacob deGrom still isn't right, but insists he's not hurt.
"Everything's fine," deGrom said, after the Mets' 6-4 loss to the Marlins on Thursday night at Citi Field.
That's fine, except everything isn't fine. It wasn't fine when deGrom surrendered 25 hits over a two-start span, and it wasn't fine when he returned from an extended break to walk four and throw 102 pitches in five sluggish innings against the Marlins.
"That's not Jake," manager Terry Collins said. "A lot of balls up and away. That late movement, that wasn't there. Obviously, we still have some work to do."
In the moments after deGrom exited Thursday's game, the big question was what kind of work he needed. Just before heading down the tunnel to the Mets' clubhouse, he signaled for head athletic trainer Ray Ramirez to join him.
DeGrom admitted after the game that he wanted to talk to Ramirez, but insisted again it wasn't about an injury.
"I just got out of sync out there," deGrom said. "There's nothing wrong."
The Mets hope that's true, as they bid for a second straight trip to the postseason. Even with Thursday's loss, they're just two games behind the Cardinals for a National League Wild Card spot.
Collins had reasons to be encouraged by some of what he saw on Thursday, with Michael Conforto doubling in his first at-bat since being called up from the Minors, Jay Bruce hitting his first home run since Aug. 6 and Asdrúbal Cabrera homering for the fifth time in his last seven games.
But the rotation is supposed to be the Mets' strength, and health has turned it into an area of significant concern. Matt Harvey (surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome) is out for the season, Zack Wheeler (recovering from Tommy John surgery) isn't coming back this year and Steven Matz is out with soreness in his left shoulder.
The Mets need deGrom as much as ever, but they need him to be right.
"Jake deGrom is a huge piece," Collins said. "You can't lose three-fifths of your rotation and think you're going to be in good shape."
The Mets gave deGrom three extra days' rest before this start, believing fatigue was a factor in back-to-back disappointing outings in San Francisco and St. Louis. DeGrom had fared well in the past with extra rest, with a 2.31 ERA in 12 career starts after six or more days off.
A 12-pitch 1-2-3 first inning suggested the extra time off helped again, but in reality, deGrom was struggling right from the start. He went to a 2-0 count on the first two batters of the game, and it turned out that was a sign of things to come.
DeGrom walked four of the next nine batters, and needed 51 pitches to get through the second and third innings. By the time he got to the fifth, when the Marlins scored on back-to-back doubles by Jeff Francoeur and Xavier Scruggs to take a 3-0 lead, deGrom admitted he was tiring.
"I can't throw the ball where I want to right now," he said. "I've got to figure it out."
Asked again if the poor control was a symptom of a physical issue, deGrom insisted again it wasn't.
"I think it's mechanical," he said. "Like I said, I feel fine."
The results aren't fine, and they're particularly startling given the four-start stretch that came right before. In those four starts, deGrom yielded two runs in 27 2/3 innings, with five walks and 26 strikeouts.
In three starts since, it's 16 runs in 14 2/3 innings, with 31 hits, seven walks and 14 strikeouts.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.