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Mets notebook: Jacob deGrom feeling fine, but club undecided if he'll pitch Monday; why Saturday's doubleheader is split; pitching plans

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom walks to the dugout

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom walks to the dugout before game against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on Thursday, June 17, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

WASHINGTON — Jacob deGrom no longer is experiencing abnormal soreness in his shoulder or anywhere else, but the Mets are not ready to commit to him pitching Monday, manager Luis Rojas said Friday.

DeGrom is sticking with his usual between-starts routine, which on Friday included long toss and a brief bullpen session. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and head athletic trainer Brian Chicklo observed.

The plan for Saturday is a full bullpen session.

Rojas warned that the Mets are taking their day-by-day approach to the extreme, potentially not deciding about deGrom pitching Monday until Monday.

 

"Today went really well," Rojas said. "We want tomorrow to go really well, too."

The Mets already need one starting pitcher for Monday, a doubleheader against Atlanta. If deGrom doesn’t go, they will need two.

A pandemic rarity

The Mets and Nationals on Saturday will participate in a highly unusual occurrence in the pandemic version of Major League Baseball: a split-admission doubleheader.

They will start a seven-inning game at 1 p.m. Afterward, the crowd will clear out, and another will enter. They’ll play another seven innings beginning at 6 p.m.

Why a split doubleheader, as opposed to the single-admission kind that had become the norm since the start of last season?

The simplest answer is because the Nationals can. MLB allows it, a source said, even though split doubleheaders have been very uncommon this year.

And, to be sure, a split doubleheader is better for the home team financially. Nationals Park is back to 100% capacity, and the Nats get to sell two sets of tickets instead of one.

Many of MLB’s pandemic norms — doubleheader games being seven innings, the preference for single-admission doubleheaders — were installed ostensibly for player safety. The less time spent at the ballpark, the better, the thinking went.

But now, with the COVID-19 threat lessened and stadium crowds getting bigger, split-admission doubleheaders are coming back. The Mets and Nats will play another on Sept. 4, part of a five-game series Labor Day weekend.

The Mets’ home doubleheaders — including Monday (Atlanta) and Friday (Philadelphia) — remain the single-admission kind.

No matter the attendance, all doubleheaders games are seven innings. Rojas has become a fan of that, going as far as to say he hopes it sticks around beyond this season — a reversal of his opinion from last year, when he said, "I like my nine-inning games."

"I like them," Rojas said Friday. "Just because keeping guys on the field, especially us, who have experienced so many injuries this season, the 14 innings compared to 18 innings, keeping the guys fresher out there. That’s what we want. We want guys to play every day, be ready to play every day and prevent as many injuries as we can . . . They come in handy from a health standpoint."

Pitching plans

The Mets’ starting pitchers Saturday: David Peterson and TBA.

"There’s definitely a lot of candidates" for the second game, Rojas said.

They could go with a long reliever (Robert Gsellman or Sean Reid-Foley) or a short reliever (such as Miguel Castro, who has made a pair of one-inning starts this year).

Righthander Jerad Eickhoff, who was scheduled to start for Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday, and righthander Yennsy Diaz are on the Mets’ taxi squad.

Extra bases

Albert Almora Jr. (left shoulder contusion) is with the Mets for this series. They plan to activate him from the injured list Saturday. He has been out since May 11, when he ran at full speed into the centerfield wall trying to make a catch . . . Brandon Nimmo (left hand injury) might go on a rehab assignment next week, Rojas said.

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