NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom's primary goal is for the Mets to make the postseason. His secondary goal is to win a third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. Each would be nearly impossible if deGrom were to miss any additional time down the stretch.
In that sense, deGrom kept his dual hopes alive by throwing successful bullpen sessions Friday and Saturday at Citi Field. The Mets have penciled him in to start Monday against the Rays, five days after leaving an outing early due to a right hamstring spasm.
“I talked to him and he said, ‘I’m good. I’m good,’” manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s good to go and he’s lined up for Monday.”
Assuming deGrom stays healthy, he will now be able to pitch twice more this season: Monday against the Rays and Sept. 26 in Washington. Considering their issues elsewhere in the rotation, the Mets will almost certainly need to win both to keep their thinning postseason hopes alive. deGrom remains New York’s ace, with a 2.09 ERA in 10 starts.
As for the rest of the rotation, Rick Porcello will pitch on Sunday, followed by deGrom on Monday and Seth Lugo on Tuesday. After that, the Mets are keeping their options open, knowing they may need to use Michael Wacha, Steven Matz, Erasmo Ramírez or other starter types in long relief before then.
The updated schedule also gives deGrom an outside chance of winning the NL Cy Young Award, though he’ll likely need help down the stretch in the form of poor starts from both Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer and Chicago’s Yu Darvish. Entering Saturday's play, deGrom ranked fifth in the NL in ERA, third in strikeouts and 14th in innings.
Needing long relief on a nightly basis these days, the Mets shored up their bullpen on Saturday with the addition of Corey Oswalt. The team activated Oswalt from the injured list and optioned Franklyn Kilome to their alternate training site in Brooklyn.
Oswalt had been on the IL retroactive to Aug. 26 due to right biceps tendinitis. He had performed well in two August appearances before that, allowing two runs in 8 1/3 innings.
More than anything, the Mets simply needed the potential for length out of their bullpen after deGrom, Lugo and Matz combined to throw 6 1/3 innings over their previous three games. Kilome and Jared Hughes pitched in that role on Friday, combining for five innings in relief of Matz.
Dream come true
Todd Frazier has “always” wanted to pitch in a Major League game. So he began bugging Rojas early in Friday’s 15-2 loss to the Braves, telling him he was ready to mop up innings if needed. Rojas, after considering Dominic Smith for the relief role, eventually took Frazier up on it.
The highlight, of course, was the knuckleball Frazier used to strike out former Reds teammate Adam Duvall, who also happens to be one of the NL’s hottest hitters. When he got the called strike three, Frazier threw the ball back into the dugout to have it authenticated as a souvenir.
“You just dabble when you throw around,” Frazier said of the knuckler, noting that before Friday, he hadn’t pitched since high school. “I’ve probably been messing around with a knuckleball since I was 12 or 13.”