PHILADELPHIA -- The last time Jacob deGrom took the mound for the Mets was on April 8. With his son born and home from the hospital, the righty is expected to make his next scheduled start. But it's almost like he was never gone.Logan Verrett has made two spot starts
PHILADELPHIA -- The last time Jacob deGrom took the mound for the Mets was on April 8. With his son born and home from the hospital, the righty is expected to make his next scheduled start. But it's almost like he was never gone.
Logan Verrett has made two spot starts for deGrom, filling in from his typical bullpen role. In each of his two starts, Verrett has gone six scoreless innings. He's struck out more batters (10) than he's allowed hits (nine) en route to two Mets wins, though the first one he got credit for came Tuesday night in an 11-1 romping over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
"[Verrett] stepped up and gave us exactly what we needed," manager Terry Collins said. "When you need a start, he gives you a good one."
This marks the second season Verrett has filled the crucial long-relief/spot-starter role for the Mets. They briefly lost him after the Orioles selected him in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, but after the Rangers claimed him on waivers and returned him in May '15, he hasn't lost his spot in the Mets' bullpen.
Since returning to New York, Verrett has made six starts -- four from late August through September last season, easing the workload on the rest of the Mets' young staff, and two this season, filling in for deGrom. In those six starts, Verrett has a sparkling 2.34 ERA.
"It's a day-by-day situation for me," Verrett said. "I'm used to [spot starting] by now. Just role with the punches, go with the flow -- whatever they need."
It might seem bittersweet to have just thrown 12 innings without giving up a run only to be forced back into the bullpen, but Verrett takes it in stride. It's been his role for a full season now; he's adapted and thrived in it.
"I'm just happy to help the team win some ballgames," he said. "Whatever the role is, starting, spot starting, relieving, it doesn't matter. As long as we're winning ballgames, I'm happy to help."
Although relievers can often fly under the radar with fans or in the media, Collins doesn't take what Verrett provides for granted.
"It means a lot to the whole club," Collins said. "We know there's going to be a day where someone shows up sick who's supposed to pitch, and hopefully this guy's rested enough. If you need somebody, he can step in and do the job."
A reliable long man is indispensable, too. Just look to the other side of the diamond on Tuesday. Brett Oberholtzer, who was the third-place finisher in the Phillies' competition for the No. 5 starter in their rotation, pitched two innings against the Mets and surrendered three home runs, accounting for four runs. On the season, Oberholtzer now has appeared in three games, pitched 9 1/3 innings and posted a 7.71 ERA. In just his relief appearances last season, Verrett had a 3.55 ERA in 25 1/3 innings.
That's why, for now, Collins doesn't know if he'll begin to give Verrett higher leverage innings once he returns to the bullpen.
"I just know he's going to pitch," Collins said, "because he gets outs and he throws strikes."
Evan Webeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com.