NEW YORK -- It was around mid-June, sometime toward the end of Jacob deGrom's first month-long winless streak, that the Mets' lack of run support for their best pitcher reached a level of absurdity. In the nearly seven weeks since that time, nothing has changed. deGrom has not won another
NEW YORK -- It was around mid-June, sometime toward the end of Jacob deGrom's first month-long winless streak, that the Mets' lack of run support for their best pitcher reached a level of absurdity. In the nearly seven weeks since that time, nothing has changed. deGrom has not won another game.
In dropping a 2-1 contest Friday night to the Braves at Citi Field, deGrom fell to 0-2 against Atlanta in five starts despite a 1.09 ERA in those outings. Among pitchers who have started at least five games without a win against any one team in a season, deGrom's ERA against the Braves ranks second-lowest in Major League history.
"I don't like losing baseball games," deGrom said. "It's not something that I ever want to get used to."
And yet he has had little say in the matter. Now 5-7 with a 1.85 ERA overall, deGrom has a realistic chance to become the first pitcher in baseball's modern ERA to finish a season with a sub-2.00 ERA and fewer than 10 wins, and just the second to complete a year with more Wins Above Replacement -- he entered the night with 6.4, per Baseball-Reference's calculations -- than victories.
Dizzy yet? The particulars are nearly as remarkable as the statistics. In Friday's loss, deGrom recorded the Mets' lone RBI, singling home Amed Rosario in the third. No other Mets, besides those two, managed a hit off Braves starter Anibal Sanchez, who lasted six innings.
"You start feeling that you're letting Jacob down a little bit," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "He knows that those guys are out there trying to score runs for him every night and it's just not happening, and he knows he can't control it."
For deGrom, this has festered beyond bad luck, beyond misfortune, beyond even the usual condemnations of the individual win stat. This is a pitcher with a legitimate chance to win the National League Cy Young Award -- deGrom's 1.85 ERA is more than half a run better than anyone else -- despite a losing record.
The Braves touched him for a Johan Camargo solo homer in the second inning, and back-to-back doubles by Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies in the fifth. Following Albies' hit, deGrom reeled off 10 consecutive outs to end his evening.
"It's baseball. Who knows?" said Braves manager Brian Snitker, when asked about his team's perfect record against deGrom. "It's such a tough battle when you face him. My God. Do I like playing him? No. Do I like watching him pitch? Absolutely. I love watching him pitch. He's just so good."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Double trouble: The game's decisive run came during a three-pitch stretch in the fifth. After deGrom struck out the first two batters of the inning, Acuna ripped a double into the left-center-field gap. The next batter, Albies, lofted a more softly hit ball down the left-field line, where it landed just fair -- and just out of Michael Conforto's reach. Acuna raced around easily with the go-ahead run.
"Albies, I felt like I made a decent pitch," deGrom said. "A first-pitch curveball and he just somehow kept that thing fair. But those are three tough guys to face."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Mets put some fundamentally sound baseball on display in the third inning, turning a 4-3-5 double play to catch Acuna trying to go first-to-third on a grounder to the right side.
As Acuna raced by him, Jose Reyes made a diving stop of Albies' ground ball, flipping to first baseman Jose Bautista for the out. Bautista then fired across the diamond to Todd Frazier, who applied a tag on Acuna to end the inning.
"When you make plays like that … that brings energy," Callaway said. "Everybody came running off the field and we were pumped up. It felt the same as if you would have hit a home run."
Recording his second RBI of the season, deGrom became one of five pitchers with multiple RBIs every year since 2014. The others are Madison Bumgarner, Julio Teheran, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.
Four of deGrom's 14 career RBIs have come against the Braves, his most versus any one opponent.
HE SAID IT
"I guess it's a Stetson thing, I don't know. Maybe they didn't score a lot of runs at Stetson when those guys pitched." -- Callaway, comparing deGrom's 2018 season to the 2015 campaign of fellow Stetson alumnus Corey Kluber, who went 9-16 despite a 3.49 ERA
Zack Wheeler made himself a Trade Deadline target by posting a 2.56 ERA in his final six starts before July 31. Now that the Mets have decided to keep him around, Wheeler will look to keep his momentum going Saturday in a 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Braves. He'll oppose right-hander Kevin Gausman, who will make his Braves debut after a trade from the Orioles.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.