NEW YORK -- Given the choice to start Jacob deGrom on full rest Tuesday coming off a five-day coronavirus hiatus, the Mets instead turned to veteran Rick Porcello. Although deGrom may have been the obvious pick, he wasn’t able to throw a bullpen session during the shutdown and the Mets wanted him to do so, then have a day of rest, before taking the mound.
So New York instead started Porcello in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Citi Field, watching as he gave up four runs in three innings before a 65-minute rain delay cut short his start -- a fate that might have awaited deGrom, as well, had he started the game.
By that time, the damage was done in a 4-0 loss to the Marlins. Seth Lugo started Game 2 for the Mets, with deGrom scheduled to return to the mound on Wednesday.
“Jake wants to throw all the time,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He told me that he could have gone today. But it’s good that he gets that in-between start routine that he does.”
Most of the damage against Porcello occurred in the second inning, when Lewis Brinson hit a two-out RBI single and Miguel Rojas followed with a two-run knock. An inning later, Brian Anderson -- who had sparked the second-inning rally with a leadoff double -- doubled again on a ball that center fielder Brandon Nimmo could not corral. Anderson later scored on Lewin Díaz’s RBI single.
The damage increased Porcello’s ERA to 6.43 in six starts. Although Corey Oswalt followed with four shutout innings of relief, the Mets never rallied against Marlins starter Daniel Castano and three Miami relievers.
“It’s been frustrating,” Porcello said. “It’s always frustrating when you’re not going out there and giving your team a chance to win every fifth day consistently.”
Afterward, Rojas bemoaned his offense’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position in what has been a common refrain for the Mets' manager this season. The team went 0-for-10 in those situations in Game 1 versus 8-for-19 in all other at-bats, offering evidence that the outcome wouldn’t have been different with deGrom, Dwight Gooden or Tom Seaver on the mound.
In reality, the Mets will never know what would have happened had they elected to start deGrom over Porcello, given the Baseball Butterfly Effect that could have occurred. Maybe it would have been a wasted deGrom start, considering the lengthy rain delay that probably would have cut it short? Maybe New York would have figured out a way to win with its ace on the mound?
For the Mets, it mattered little. At this point, in what has been a difficult season for myriad reasons, the team is determined to look forward -- not back.
“It’s just to keep guys almost on line,” Rojas said of the organization’s decision to start Porcello over deGrom, “and then we’ll go after that.”