It would be nice if the numbers told the whole story. They’re that good. Still, the truth is that Jacob deGrom isn’t quite back to being the dominating starter the Mets know and love.
The righthander has made three starts this season and is 3-0 with a 1.02 ERA after going six innings and allowing three unearned runs in the Mets 6-5 win over the Giants on Saturday at Citi Field. He still hasn’t re-established his mid-90s fastball, but he did hit 95 a couple of times, including the final pitch of a swinging strikeout by Angel Pagan in the first inning.
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He allowed two hits and struck out five, but the fact that he issued four walks says his command of the strike zone isn’t all there yet.
“I wouldn’t say I feel as comfortable as I normally do on the mound,” deGrom said.
If anyone would have reason for that, it’s him. This was his first outing off a normal between-starts routine.
In spring training, deGrom’s velocity wasn’t where it had been last season, most likely because of the career-high 216 innings he threw in 2015 between the regular season and the Mets’ run to the World Series.
After his first regular-season start, he experienced right lat muscle discomfort, left the team to join his wife for the birth of their son, Jaxon, and needed to remain in Florida while attending to a serious health scare after the boy’s delivery.
He returned to the team after Jaxon was in the clear and pitched reasonably well last Sunday. But now he feels as if it’s all coming back to him.
“Just getting back into my routine and working in between starts — that will all come back into line now that everything is good [at home] and I am back here now,” deGrom said.
His control was uncharacteristically off after a perfect first inning. He issued a pair of one-out walks in the second, then bailed himself out by striking out Brandon Crawford and getting Kelby Tomlinson to hit a comebacker, but he wasn’t as fortunate in the third.
Wilmer Flores, starting at third, threw what should have been an inning-ending groundout wide of first base for an error that put runners at the corners. DeGrom walked Buster Posey and Brandon Belt, allowing the Giants to cut the Mets’ lead to 4-1. Hunter Pence followed with a two-run single to right, but Belt was thrown out at third to end the inning.
“The thing I was most disappointed about today was not being able to pick up Flo,” deGrom said. “Errors happen in the game and those are times when you’ve got to make your pitches and pick your teammate up.”
He didn’t do it Saturday, but there are signs he’ll be able to do it soon.