PITTSBURGH — Jacob deGrom worked another seven mostly effective innings Saturday in the Mets’ 5-0 loss to the Pirates. He allowed three runs and eight hits, struck out five and walked none.
By deGrom’s 2018 standards, it was a less than mediocre outing. Given the way the Mets’ offense has backed him up, it turned into another loss.
DeGrom’s ERA rose to 1.82, still best in the majors. His record — increasingly considered a poor measure of a pitcher’s performance, with deGrom’s season serving as an excellent case study — is 5-6. No qualifying pitcher has had a sub-2.00 ERA and a losing record in more than a century.
DeGrom has remained diplomatic throughout a personally dominant season that has been rough for the team. On Saturday, he said he doesn’t think about the influence his lack of wins might have on the National League Cy Young Award voting. He also doesn’t let the lack of run support lead to public frustration.
“Obviously [pitcher wins] aren’t indicative of what we’ve seen from Jacob and his performance this year,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “I definitely don’t worry about it, because I really feel very strongly about win-loss records [that they don’t mean all that much]. I don’t think everybody shares my opinion on that. It definitely could cost him something.”
Trevor Williams went six scoreless innings for the win, allowing five hits and three walks.
DeGrom carried a shutout through 5 2⁄3 innings before Greg ory Polanco blooped a single, stole second and scored on Colin Moran’s ground single.
David Freese (RBI groundout) and Adam Frazier (RBI double, 3-for-4 against deGrom) drove in runs in the seventh.
“They beat me there,” deGrom said. “I made a couple of good pitches and they were able to battle me and find some holes. I was frustrated with that.”
That hill proved to be a mountain for the Mets’ lineup. DeGrom went 2-for-3 with a double. Everyone else went 4-for-29 with no extra-base hits.
“The guys know they haven’t been scoring runs for him, and I’m sure they don’t feel very good about it,” Callaway said.
DeGrom’s innings total is now 138 1⁄3; if he keeps pace with his average of about 6 1⁄2 innings per outing, he’ll finish at about 215 innings, a career high that would have led the majors last season.
And thus the Mets are presented a new question in the final third of a lost season: Will they have to monitor their starters’ workloads?
DeGrom’s total, by virtue of his excellence, is climbing quickly. Zack Wheeler, at 114 1⁄3 innings, already is at his highest mark since 2014. Steven Matz is well past his 2017 total and is close to matching his personal high of about 140, done in 2014 and 2015 (majors and minors).
In the case of deGrom, the Mets’ horse and their only consistently healthy starter, the answer is simpler. The organization almost definitely won’t limit him.
“You don’t want to hinder what he is trying to do as a person and personally in his career, because he is in line to do something special,” Callaway said. “You have to keep that in mind.”
Read: DeGrom is a leading candidate for the Cy Young. The Mets likely will grant him every chance to finish that chase.
Saturday helped, but deGrom didn’t get the win. He has a 3.00 ERA in his half-dozen losses. In 10 no-decisions, it’s 1.44.
“He continues to put us in a position to win,” Callaway said. “And we’re failing him.”