Terry Collins spoke glowingly about Jacob deGrom’s all-business attitude on the mound before Wednesday night’s 7-3 win over the visiting Cardinals in which deGrom proved why it pays to have that type of demeanor.
After beginning the game with a 13-pitch at-bat against Matt Carpenter, who eventually flew out to rightfield, deGrom settled in, tossing 6 2⁄3 innings, striking out three and allowing one run on seven hits and a walk.
“He puts thought into it, what’s going on on the mound,” Collins said. “He was very uncomfortable, he said, in the first inning, and he just settled down after that, went back to work and competed like he always does.”
All told, deGrom needed 25 pitches to get through the first inning. The Mets followed with three runs in the bottom half of the frame, and deGrom responded with a 10-pitch top of the second.
Collins said “we really needed” the bounce back inning, as it allowed the offense to stay hot against starter Mike Leake. The Mets plated four more in the second and had 10 hits after the first two innings.
Part of deGrom’s early struggles and likely an explanation of his low strikeout total was that he said he wasn’t comfortable throwing his slider or changeup.
“I wasn’t able to throw my slider where I wanted to,” deGrom said. “I threw a couple good ones, but the other ones really weren’t where I wanted them, so we went away from it, went more curveball. Changeup didn’t have a real good feel for either.”
DeGrom appeared to have completed seven full innings when Luke Voit struck out on a ball home plate umpire David Rackley initially thought was foul tipped and caught after skipping in the dirt. But the call was quickly reversed, and Voit blasted a double to the wall two pitches later, scoring Greg Garcia and chasing deGrom from the game after 110 pitches.
“I felt fine physically, it’s just I didn’t have a good feel for things tonight,” deGrom said. “It was one of those days.”
Despite not having his best stuff, deGrom won his seventh straight start. He’s sporting a 1.51 ERA since the streak began with a one-run complete game against the Cubs on June 12.
This was also the eighth time this season that deGrom has allowed one run or fewer. He’s done that 43 times in his first 95 starts, tied with Dwight Gooden for the most starts in the majors since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“Jake, as I said, when he’s out there, it’s all business,” Collins said. “He doesn’t want to make any mistakes, so he settled down and pitched a good game.”
DeGrom said recent trade rumors involving his name haven’t gotten to him, admitting that the rumored interest of other teams must mean he’s been doing something right.
A package for the ace would likely be filled with young talent, but GM Sandy Alderson called a trade “exceeding unlikely” when speaking with reporters Friday.
He’s simply too valuable to a team with hopes of contending in 2018.
“We knew it when he first got here,” Collins said, “he’s going to be a good pitcher for a long time.”