Jacob deGrom

Scherzer Goes Six Shutout Innings Before Nats Bullpen Implodes in 6-1 Loss to Mets

It’s not every day you get to witness a matchup of arguably, the two best pitchers in baseball but, yesterday, at Citi Field, the Mets Jacob deGrom, the Cy Young Award winner last season, faced the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, the Cy Young winner the season before that.

Scherzer was trying to help Washington avoid a third straight loss to the New York Mets and a fourth straight loss overall, but he was matched up against right-hander Jacob deGrom, who beat him out for the 2018 NL Cy Young award.

Scherzer’s manager, Davey Martinez, told reporters before the third game of four against the Mets in Citi Field that he thought his ace would be up for the challenge.

“He’s a fierce competitor and he loves to win,” Martinez said. “There’s no other thing for him but winning, so he’s going to out there today and face an opponent that’s pretty good too, but knowing Max he’s going to gives us his best effort and go out there and try to get that win.”

Scherzer’s pitch count was high, but he tossed four scoreless on 73 pitches after the Nats jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, and he picked up three Ks in a 25-pitch fifth that left him with nine strikeouts and 98 pitches overall after five scoreless.

He came back out for the sixth and retired the Mets in order in an 11-pitch frame that ended his outing.

Joe Ross and Matt Grace combined to get the Nationals through the seventh with their 1-0 lead intact, but two runners reached against Kyle Barraclough in the eighth and three runs scored on a bases-loaded double off Sean Doolittle, who gave up a three-run home run as well in what ended up a 6-1 loss.

“Scherzer was amazing,” Martinez told reporters after the loss. “Exceeded the pitch count we thought he was going to have and gave us a chance to win and we just couldn’t close the deal.”

It was another loss for the Nationals, who’ve now dropped four straight overall, three in Citi Field, and 14 of 21 in May.

“No one likes to lose,” Scherzer said after another solid outing in which a potential win was lost in the bullpen.

“Everyone hates losing. Everyone in here hates losing, so you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself, you play every single day, you have to come out tomorrow and just compete and there’s nothing else you can do.”

Scherzer was asked what the Nationals have to do to keep things from spiraling further out of control after they fell to eleven games under .500 with the loss to the Mets.

“When you face adversity, this is when you reveal yourself,” Scherzer said.

“Whether you have the mental fortitude to come back and know that you can block out all the negativity that’s probably going to surround us right now. You’ve got to come forward to the game with that positive attitude of knowing what you can control, knowing that you have the right mindset that you’re going to go out there and compete and compete at 100%. You have to think of all the little things you can do, and for me that’s really what I’ve been focused on in kind of the past handful of turns in the rotation, of all the little things that I can do to make sure that I’m executing pitches and make sure that I’m throwing the ball the way I want to. It just takes an individual approach when you have adversity.”

Mandel’s Musings: Mets/Matz Enjoy Day of Redemption in Win Over Brewers

by Scott Mandel

Coming off of two losses to the Brewers at home in this three-game series, the Mets were reeling a bit as their two aces, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, each got ripped by the Milwaukee lineup in their starts on Friday and Saturday nights.

Having dropped to a .500 record (13-13), the Mets needed a win. Badly.

Today’s starting pitcher, Steven Matz, was coming off a start that was easily the worst of his career. Against Philadelphia on April 16th, Matz never retired one hitter, allowing eight runs (six earned) in the first inning before Mets manager, Mickey Callaway mercifully came out to get him.

Matz needed a win, ideally, or, at least to pitch a whale of a game. Badly.

Today was redemption day for the Mets. Mission accomplished on both objectives.

Going a season-high seven innings, Matz tamed the Brewers’ hot bats — they had scored 18 runs on 28 hits over the first two games of the series — and the Mets continued an early-season trend of scoring in the late innings, leading to a 5-2 victory at Citi Field Sunday afternoon.

“[Matz] was awesome today,” first baseman Pete Alonso said after the Mets snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 3-3 on their 10-game homestand. “He gave up a home run, but he was damn-near perfect.”

“If you look up there, it’s amazing he has an ERA that he does when he got no outs in a start and gave up that many runs,” manager Mickey Callaway said, referring to Matz’ last outing against the Phillies. “He’s pitched tremendously aside from that one start where he didn’t record an out.”

The Brewers started Gio Gonzalez today. Yes, that Gio Gonzalez of Washington Nationals fame who had been without a team this season until the Yankees signed him to a minor league deal with short-term limitations. The Yanks had to commit to bringing him up to the major leagues by April 20th or Gonzalez could choose to become a free agent again. His outings were spotty at Triple-A Scranton so the Yankees opted not to sign him for the big club.

Gonzalez was hoping to join the Mets, but instead re-joined a Brewers club he spent a couple of months with down the stretch last year.

Today, he started out extremely hittable as Mets hitters weren’t fooled by his soft tosses. Gonzalez, though, settled down enough to give the Brewers five pretty good innings, allowing only two runs while spacing six hits.

The Mets hope they don’t regret their decision not to sign the 33-year old lefty to a one-year deal to provide depth in their starting ranks, which has been shaky, so far. Gonzalez loves pitching in Citi Field, having entered today’s game with a career mark of 11-2, along with a gaudy 1.75 ERA against Mets lineups over his 12-year career.

“The Mets were huge, they were great,” Gonzalez said Saturday. “They were definitely in there. I think they had such a great rotation, a great group of guys, it was a tough decision. The Brewers came in and met my expectations, met my needs. Either way, it was a win-win for me.”

A Ben Gamel two-base error led to pinch-hitter J.D. Davis’ go-ahead single in the seventh, and backup catcher Tomas Nido, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Syracuse after Travis d’Arnaud was designated for assignment, stroked a two-run double in the eighth.

Working ahead and mixing his pitches well, Matz (3-1) was even better. The defensively challenged Mets, entering the day last in the National League with 22 errors, supported him in the field, turning a pair of double plays to end innings. But with two outs and a runner on in the seventh, Matz hung a 2-1 slider and Moustakas parked it, ruining the shutout. Matz snapped at the new ball he received, and proceeded to retire Hernan Perez to finish his afternoon.

“He did all those things we’ve been talking about: Getting ahead, controlling the count, executing his pitchers. He was tremendous,” Callaway said. “He just went out there and made pitch after pitch. He deserved to go seven, he deserved to get the win. He got both of those.”

Mets’ Jacob deGrom, Cy Young Award Winner, Sent Home for MRI on Pitching Elbow

by Scott Mandel

Breaking News:

Jacob deGrom, the New York Mets ace pitcher and reigning Cy Young Award winner, has been sent back to NYC from St. Louis to have an MRI on his throwing elbow, which is suddenly causing him pain. The Mets are taking no chances.

During deGrom’s last home game start, on April 10th, he was hit hard by a light-hitting Minnesota team, allowing three HRs in four innings. His velocity was somewhat lower than his usual 95-97 mph but the Mets expressed no concern that evening.

It’s premature to predict anything but the Mets are hoping, of course, the 30-year old righthander, who already had Tommy John surgery in 2010, will not be facing that prospect for a second time.

DeGrom also had surgery in September, 2016 to repair nerve damage in that same right elbow.

He just signed a contract extension with the Mets during this past off-season, for five years, $137.5 million after winning the National League’s Cy Young Award last season.

Image result for degrom's new contract
deGrom signed a new deal with the Mets for 5 years, $137.5 million

Mets’ DeGrom Proves He’s Human in Twins’ Blowout

A day after the New York metropolitan area was basking in 80 degree sunshine, late winter made another appearance tonight at Citi Field for a Mets – Minnesota Twins contest. It was only the first strange occurrence of the day.

The other unlikely event took place when the Mets’ all-world, Cy Young Award winner, Jacob deGrom, took a beating from the Twins’ lineup of mostly no-names and underachievers at Citi Field, last night, with Minnesota winning the four-hour plus game, 14-8.

It was the third start of the season by deGrom, who has turned into this generation’s version of Sandy Koufax. The Mets ace had pitched 31 consecutive starts allowing three runs or less, a major league record.

Goodbye, record. It ended last night.

In an off-night (the Mets hope), deGrom got wrapped around for six runs in four innings, including three home runs.

“We found out he’s human, finally,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “I didn’t think he was for a while.”

That’s not just managerial hyperbole. Dominance became the standard over the last 19 months for deGrom, who followed up a subpar outing on Sept. 5, 2017 (he allowed nine runs, five earned, in 3 2/3 innings against the Phillies) by producing a 1.66 ERA and striking out 321 batters in 249 innings over his next 37 starts.

Maybe the most shocking aspect of tonight’s outing by deGrom was how it was the light-hitting Twins, who came into Tuesday night with 35 runs, the eighth-fewest in the majors, and seven homers, tied for the fourth-fewest, was the team to administer such a beating.

“Missed a lot in the middle of the zone,” deGrom said. “Even a lot of the outs that they made, the ball was hit hard. Tonight’s on me. I was bad out there. That’s all there is to it.”

The Twins ended deGrom’s historic streak during a four-run third in which Eddie Rosario (who?) and Mitch Garver (who?) hit back-to-back homers.

“You’re sitting there and you think he’ll get out of this, he’ll snap out of it, he’ll punch out two in a row and get out of it like he has so many times,” Callaway said. “And tonight it just didn’t happen for him.”

The Twins scored once more in the fourth, when deGrom at least avoided the indignity of getting pulled in the middle of an inning. Callaway visited him with two outs and left him in to try and get the final out, which was recorded when Travis d’Arnaud threw out Max Kepler trying to steal second base.

Bad day at the office for Mets’ ace, deGrom

“I’ve been through (bad starts) before and hopefully I’m around long enough to have a couple more,” deGrom said. “There were a lot of good pitchers that had games like this.”

On a cold night, the sparse crowd, announced as 22,126 but looking closer to 5,000, was either too cold or too shocked to get into the game. It was a quiet Citi Field as line drives and homers were flying off the Twins’ bats as quickly as the winds whipped off Jamaica Bay.

“The whole time, I was still believing that I would be able to find it,” deGrom said. “Just didn’t happen. I don’t think I’ll ever be in a game where I’m out there and be like ‘I don’t have it.’ (Callaway) came out and said you’re at however many pitches, what do you want to do? I said I want to stay in there and continue to compete. I felt like I was going to be able to make some pitches, even at that point after giving up six runs. I still felt like I was going to be able to make a couple pitches when I needed to.

“It was just one of those days.”

Some pluses for the Mets to take from the game? Brandon Nimmo, in a season-long slump, led off the bottom of the third with a long home run off Twins starter, Kyle Gibson to make the score 5-2. Nimmo got two hits. Pete Alonzo, Robinson Cano, before Michael Conforto, off to a great start in 2019, walloped a Kyle Gibson fastballs for home runs with Conforto’s slamming into the facing of the Citi Field upper-deck in right field. It was Conforto’s third straight game with a home run, on top of his .385 batting average. Known for his slow starts, Conforto usually doesn’t warm up with the bat until June-July. And, Pete Alonso, the early favorite for Rookie of the Year honors and Hall of Fame candidate, hit two homers, the first multi-homer game of his career. But, it was too little, too late.

And, like the shocking change in New York City weather from one day to the next, Mets fans had to accept, if not endure, the fact that their Sandy Koufax could have days like this, too.

Mandel’s Musings: Mets’ Wheeler and Yankees’ Sanchez Are THE KEYS to 2019 Success

There are certain players on certain teams that are considered bellweather perfomers. On the Yankees, players like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luis Severino are needed and expected to play up to the backs of their baseball cards for the Bombers to have any chance of winning a championship. On the Mets, the expectations of excellence falls on the shoulders of Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. Without those four achieving at high levels. the Mets have no chance to compete for a division title, let alone a World Series championship.

Which brings us to the other key players on the major league roster. The ones who are unpredictable, yet, so talented that if all of their bio-rhythms were in place, their mental and physical health were steady, and they played up to their talent, it would put both of these teams squarely in the race for the big trophy at the end of the season.

Sanchez banged out three homers for Yanks, yesterday

For the Mets, one of the keys, perhaps, THE key to their success in 2019 is Zack Wheeler, currently the number three guy in their pitching rotation.

For the Yankees, it is Gary Sanchez, the sometimes moody catcher with Hall of Fame skills but not always Hall of Fame focus and concentration.

Yesterday’s games showed us just how crucial these two players are to the fortunes of these teams.

The Mets know what they will be getting from deGrom and Syndergaard when they start games every fifth day. The question mark remains Wheeler, who was the second best pitcher in baseball from the All-Star break through October in 2018.

Wheeler, who was a number one draft choice, sixth overall pick, by the San Francisco Giants in 2009, has always been viewed as a potential ace, with a 98 mph fastball with movement, sharp breaking ball, and a flexible, live arm that could take the mound every scheduled outing and dominate opposing teams.

Sanchez, who broke into the majors and made himself an immediate Hall of Fame candidate after his first half season in 2015, has had more ups and downs in his still-young career than any future Hall of Famer should go through. Most of those downs have been of his own making, through not being able to understand or accept the tough love former manager, Joe Girardi, the old catcher, tried to impart to Sanchez the finer points of the game, especially, defensively.

Girardi was fired, some say, because of his relationship with Sanchez, in an era of players having more power than a manager.

But yesterday, we saw what Sanchez, still only 26, can do with a bat in his hand. In an era when any offense from a catcher is welcome but not necessarily expected by major league teams, the “San-chize” hit not one, not two, but three home runs in Baltimore. He drove in six runs. And, the Yankees had another cakewalk against the sad Orioles, 15-3.

He now has six homers in the season’s first 10 games, and looks to be a happy player.

Oddly, after the game, no one expressed shock at yesterday’s output from the young slugger. His teammates have seen him do this before, in bunches, as a rookie and in his second year. Last year, he hit .188. Nobody seems to know why yet, most baseball observers still consider his hitting talent to be the best in the Yankees lineup.

The dilemma with Sanchez is, we know he’s one of the scariest hitters in the game, when he has access to his full compliment of physical and mental capabilities. The question is, how do the Yankees keep him happy and thriving?

With Sanchez bashing, the Yankee lineup, is one in which nobody can be pitched around. It becomes a nightmare for opposing pitching staffs and it will lead to a season of fastballs for everybody, 1 thru 9.

Yesterday, Wheeler pitched against the Washington Nationals in a style reminiscent of the first eight years of his career. He lost his command on his fastball and curve, he lost his control, walking a career-high seven batters in five innings. He generally looked lost out there, a huge disappointment to a Mets organization that has been re-structured from top to bottom by new general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen. But still, at the major league level, this team is programmed to be dependent on its pitching arms.

Without Wheeler pitching with some semblance of his talent level, the Mets will turn into a version of the old Milwaukee Braves slogan, “Burdette and Sain, and pray for rain” from the 1950s:

“deGrom and No (Syndergaard) and pray for snow.”

Right now, the Mets are praying for the light to go on again for Wheeler. If it doesn’t, you are looking at Stephen Matz and Jason Vargas needing to pick up the pace to about 15 wins apiece. A tall order which almost guarantees a disappointing season for the Mets.