There was never a question about whether Jacob deGrom would be in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. The only uncertainty revolves around the inning in which he’ll appear.
The Mets ace has been one of the team’s few bright spots approaching the Midsummer Classic. He entered Thursday ranked first in the National League in ERA (1.68) and second in WHIP (0.97), strikeouts (149) and innings pitched (123 1⁄3).
“He should be starting the All-Star Game, that’s how I feel about it,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Wednesday night. “There’s no doubt in my mind. If he’s not, then that’s the wrong decision.”
Callaway doubled down before Thursday night’s game against Washington, again saying he believed deGrom should start Tuesday at Washington’s Nationals Park. His 1.678 ERA is the second-lowest entering the All-Star break in franchise history, a thousandth of a point behind Dwight Gooden’s 1.677 in 1985. DeGrom has allowed one or no runs in 14 of his 19 starts this season and in 57 of his 125 career starts (45.6 percent).
His toughest competition for the All-Star honor took the mound Thursday night at Citi Field. Washington’s Max Scherzer is leading the league in WHIP (0.90), strikeouts (182) and innings pitched (134 2⁄3) and is third in ERA (2.41).
Scherzer was solid but not brilliant against the Mets, allowing three runs, five hits and two walks in seven innings. He struck out five.
Scherzer didn’t want to comment on the possibility of starting the All-Star Game, although he praised deGrom’s season, saying, “He’s fun to watch.”
The Nationals’ Bryce Harper complimented both aces.
“If there’s a guy I want out there every fifth day,” he said, “it’s either Max Scherzer or Jacob deGrom.’’
Nationals manager Dave Martinez expressed the same conviction about his pitcher as Callaway did about deGrom.
“I don’t want to be biased, but Max Scherzer, yeah, of course,” Martinez said. “Knowing him, he’d probably want to pitch the whole game, but that’s not going to happen. But yeah, I really think he deserves to start the game.”
In the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field, the Mets’ Matt Harvey started despite ranking fourth in baseball in ERA, including behind Clayton Kershaw’s 1.89.
“Without a doubt, [deGrom] should be starting in the All-Star Game,” the Mets’ Todd Frazier said. “But you know how stuff goes with the guy who’s at the home field. [Dave Roberts] has a big decision.”
The Dodgers’ Roberts will manage the National League team.
After shutting out the Phillies for eight innings Wednesday night, deGrom said he would like to start Tuesday but understands the call is out of his hands. “That decision’s not up to me,” he said. “Of course I’d like to start it, but we’ll just see what happens.”
Although deGrom’s record (5-4) isn’t close to what one would expect based on his statistics, Callaway has been impressed by how he doesn’t let lack of run support bother him.
The 30-year-old righthander entered Thursday with the worst run support in the major leagues among pitchers with at least 120 innings (3.79 runs per start). The Mets scored 28 runs in his first four starts, but in his last 13, they averaged only 2.77 runs. And if you take out a 12-run outlier against the Rockies, the average drops to 2.0.
“When he starts, he’s had to endure some run-scoring issues by us,” Callaway said. “And he’s handled that with flying colors, and it’s put him in a spot where he should be starting the All-Star Game.”