A New York Mets trainer checks on starting pitcher Jacob...

A New York Mets trainer checks on starting pitcher Jacob deGrom during an MLB baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It stands to reason that if every game in 2020 is 2.7 times more important than those in a 162-game season, every game the Mets do not win when Jacob deGrom pitches is 2.7 times worse than usual.

And yet, that number still seems quite low. It was one thing when the Mets were making a shocking, seemingly impossible mess of deGrom’s starts during his two Cy Young Award seasons, going 28-36 in them.

But with Noah Syndergaard out for the year, Marcus Stroman out for the time being, Zack Wheeler out of town and now even Michael Wacha on the injured list, deGrom’s turns loom larger than ever.

That is what made Sunday’s 4-2 victory over the Marlins at Citi Field extra satisfying, as it was a mirror image of the usual script of recent seasons.

Rather than the Mets losing with deGrom at his best, they won with deGrom at less than his best.

“These guys did a good of putting up some runs for me, and the bullpen held it down,” deGrom said. “So it’s a good team win.”

This was the second game in a row in which the Mets supported deGrom on offense, after a 7-2 victory over the Braves on Tuesday.

DeGrom hardly was awful by most standards, allowing two runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 98 pitches over five innings. He allowed a two-run home run by Jesus Aguilar in the fifth inning.

But he said he “felt a little off today,” and he looked it, especially during a slog of a second inning during which he did not allow a run but threw 32 pitches, including eight consecutive balls.

“It was a pretty frustrating inning,” he said.

Might it have been related to an issue with his right middle finger, which also had bothered him in Atlanta, and required a checkup on the mound from trainer Brian Chicklo?

DeGrom did his best to downplay the problem, first saying it was “fine,” then that the ball had slipped off “like I was getting a blister,” then calling it merely “a little hot spot,” then saying he was “starting to get a blister,” then finally saying, “There is a tiny blister, but I’m still going to go out there every fifth day. That’s the goal.”

The plan is to “file it off and hope it’s better for the next one . . . It’s kind of causing a little bit of a blister, but it’s not where it’s torn or anything or it really affects me. I can just feel it every once in a while.”

It makes sense for the Mets and their fans to be hyper-aware of any potential physical problem with deGrom.

On Sunday, that not only meant the finger thing, but also a time when he and Chicklo went into the tunnel near the dugout between innings. What was that about?

“The first three starts I felt the arm was moving really well; I felt like it was dragging a little bit today,” he said. “Just went down there and tried to loosen up a little more and get things back in line.

“Felt like I was underneath everything, where my previous three I felt like everything was on time. So I just felt like my arm wasn’t moving like it had been in my previous starts.”

That does not sound great, so again, all eyes will be kept on these matters. But for the short term on Sunday, the fact the Mets improved to 3-1 in deGrom’s starts was a good omen.

So was the fact they got one scoreless inning each from four relief pitchers, with even Edwin Diaz surviving an eighth inning that ended with two runners in scoring position.

This is the way the baseball world is supposed to work: stars carrying their teams most of the time, and the team carrying their stars some of the time.

Even deGrom.


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