ARLINGTON -- After winning starts against the Angels on May 19 and in Pittsburgh on May 26, in which he allowed just one earned run over 15 1/3 innings, Jacob deGrom appeared to iron out his early-season struggles.
But back-to-back outings in Milwaukee and Arlington once again raised concerns. deGrom gave up seven earned runs on eight hits in four innings against the Brewers, and Tuesday night, the Rangers touched him up for eight runs, tying his career high, in another four-inning outing in the Mets' 10-8 loss to Texas.
"I'm definitely frustrated," deGrom said. "I always want to go out there and give our team a chance to win. We'd go up, and I'd go give it back up. It's just a poor effort on my part."
He allowed a season-high 10 hits, his ERA elevated to 4.75, and he struck out just two hitters, a sharp decline for one of the top strikeout pitchers in the Majors.
Mets manager Terry Collins hasn't seen anything like this with deGrom.
"I have not [seen this] since he's been a big league pitcher," Collins said. "Outside of when he went through the elbow stuff last year, this is the first time since he's been in the big leagues he really had to work hard and struggled with his stuff.
"After the start in Pittsburgh, you've got to think he's back on track. Now he's had two bad ones in a row, and we've got to work hard and dig deep and figure out how to get him better."
And unlike last year, when nagging elbow soreness eventually ended his season, there's no underlying pain or health issues that are causing the struggles, which is what's bugging deGrom and Collins the most.
"I feel fine, that's what's frustrating about it," deGrom said. "I feel good. I just don't know where the ball's going right now."
deGrom said one explanation could be that his mechanics are off as a lingering result of the injury he suffered last year, but he wasn't using that as an excuse to explain his recent outings.
In the fifth inning, after he pulled deGrom, Collins put his arm around him in the dugout and consoled the young pitcher.
"[Collins said] just keep my head up," deGrom said. "It's two bad starts. Forget about them and get ready for my next one, and that's what I plan on doing."