The Mets’ starting pitchers love their superhero nicknames, so here’s a question for them: What’s Captain America without his shield? Wonder Woman without her golden lasso? Superman without the sun?
The answer: In a whole lot of trouble.
And for a while, it seemed as if a few of the Mets’ pitchers — Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, in particular — were in the same boat. After all, what’s Harvey without his swagger? Or deGrom without that bite on his fastball?
Well, if the last week is any indication, that’s not something manager Terry Collins (or the fair citizens of Gotham) need to worry about too much.
“We’re still going to be OK,” Collins said Wednesday after deGrom had to settle for a no-decision after allowing one earned run in seven innings against the White Sox. “We’ve just got to grind out some offense and we’re going to be fine. Our pitching is going to come, and as we saw last year, when our pitching gets going, we get going.”
It’s true that deGrom’s fastball velocity is still down — an average of 92.9 miles per hour from 94.9 in 2015 — and that Harvey suffered through three straight starts in which he allowed at least five earned runs each time before tossing a seven-inning, two-hit gem Monday, but the signs of resurgence certainly are there.
DeGrom is 3-1 with a perfectly deGrom-esque 2.62 ERA and struck out 10 for the 10th time in his career Wednesday. Harvey, despite the bloated 5.37 ERA and 1.54 WHIP, has been working extensively with pitching coach Dan Warthen. Specifically, his arm slot is higher than it was in 2013, and they’re on a quest to find that sweet spot again. On Monday, he said he is getting closer.
“All of his pitches were working so good and he has confidence,” catcher Rene Rivera said after that start. “Dan and him have been working so hard these last couple days to get him back on track and we see him [benefiting from that] today . . . It’s 162 games, players get ups and downs. He was in the down part and now he’s coming back.”
What should be particularly heartening for Mets fans is that despite two one-run starts in a row, deGrom insists he still isn’t satisfied with his mechanics.
“I think there’s still some work to do,” he said. “I felt like I got more swing-and-misses on my fastball than earlier this season, so that’s a good sign for me.”
Harvey, in personality and stuff, is a little bit different. He has liberally peppered the word “frustrated” into conversations about his recent struggles, and his mound persona — brash, fearless, a little cocky — is about as much a part of his repertoire as his slider. So when Collins was asked for the most positive sign during Monday’s performance, he didn’t talk mechanics.
“The emotion, the intensity,” Collins said. “When he got out of that inning in the seventh, he was genuinely fired up. That was great to see.”