Jacob deGrom reached a milestone Sunday, logging 200 innings in the regular season for the first time in his four-year career, though he took the loss as the Mets fell to the Nationals, 3-2.
For deGrom, reaching that plateau was a personal goal, one he viewed as a dividing line between the ordinary and the elite. He did it in the fifth inning when he fanned Trea Turner.
In six innings, DeGrom struck out 11, walked none and allowed three runs, including a two-run homer by Turner in the third. He was pulled after 102 pitches.
“Hopefully, we go to the World Series next year,” deGrom said. “I think that’s something I wanted to get to, to know what it’s like to pitch that many innings in a year.”
With one more start left this season, deGrom has established career highs with 201 1⁄3 innings and 239 strikeouts. With 11 double-digit-strikeout games in a single season, he is tied with Dwight Gooden (1985) for fourth in franchise history.
Not since Bartolo Colon logged 202 1⁄3 innings in 2014 had a Mets pitcher eclipsed the 200-inning mark.
“Certainly with the breakdown of the pitching staff, he turned into the ace,” said manager Terry Collins, who insisted that deGrom should receive support in the Cy Young Award voting. “He became the guy you turned to when things were tough, when you lost a few in a row. You were always looking to see when he was going to pitch again.”
Brandon Nimmo hammered a solo home run off Max Scherzer, the 218th homer of the season for the Mets, who tied the franchise single-season record set last season. But it was the only run support for deGrom, whose season has been the only highlight in an otherwise dreadful season for Mets pitching.
Mets starters began play with a 5.20 ERA, which would be the worst in franchise history, an outcome brought about by a wave of injuries and surprising underperformance.
Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler finished on the disabled list. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo dealt with health issues and took a step back from their work a season ago.
Noah Syndergaard spent most of the season out with a torn lat. On Saturday, his five-pitch effort in the first inning represented his first game action since April. He could pitch again as soon as Friday.
“He came out of the game feeling great,” Collins said. “He should have. When you throw only five pitches, you ought to feel pretty good.”
The Mets have hoped that Matt Harvey can use his final outings of the season to repair his battered confidence. One day after the righthander allowed three runs in four innings — lowering his ERA to 11.78 in his five outings since coming off the disabled list — Collins said he saw “some real positives,” including an improved slider and better fastball command.
“It’s too easy to beat yourself up when the expectations are every time you go out to be perfect,” Collins said.
With all the challenges the Mets have faced with their pitching, deGrom has been relatively low maintenance. Aside from a couple of hiccups during the season, he has been the team’s only workhorse, delivering 90 innings more than any other starter. His 3.53 ERA leads all qualifying Mets starters, with Lugo next at 5.03, illustrating the size of the gap between the ace and the rest of the rotation.
“You never know what to expect coming off of surgery,” said deGrom, who had a procedure last year to address a nerve issue in his right elbow. “So being healthy this year was definitely a big plus for me.”
Hurricane relief. Bullpen coach Ricky Bones made a personal plea for support in the Mets’ hurricane relief efforts for his native Puerto Rico. The disaster hit close to home for Bones, who learned through family that his father survived the storm. He said cellphone service there remains spotty. “I haven’t talked to my dad yet,” Bones said, his voice cracking. “It’s been tough. I know he’s fine.” The Mets will collect batteries, flashlights, diapers and cases of water among other supplies during the team’s series against the Braves starting Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. at various points around Citi Field. “Bring anything and everything you can to help these people,” said Lugo, whose family in Puerto Rico made it through the disaster. “They need your help.” . . . A’s rookie Bruce Maxwell on Saturday became the first player in the big leagues to kneel during the national anthem this season, emulating a movement that began in the NFL. But before Sunday’s game, none of the Mets or Nationals chose to follow suit. “I’ve been blessed enough to travel the world and I respect our country immensely,” Collins said before the game. “We do have rights here which other places don’t. I respect that also. But I’m proud of my guys that they go line up every night and stand and face the flag. Everybody’s allowed to have their own thoughts. I don’t criticize anybody. I don’t do that stuff. I’m happy that our guys do what they do.”