Mickey Callaway apparently was serious about needing Wilson Ramos to catch Jacob deGrom’s starts in the playoffs, if the Mets rebound do qualify for October baseball.
Ramos caught deGrom’s second straight strong start Thursday, after backup Tomas Nido had appeared to be emerging as the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner’s personal backstop in catching the righthander’s previous three outings.
DeGrom lasted seven innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out eight but got a no-decision against the Cardinals at Citi Field.
“I think we’re at the point where we're just going to [use them together],” Callaway said of Ramos and deGrom before the series opener against the Cardinals. “Wilson is our starter, there’s no secrets about it. He’s been very productive at the plate. He’s caught everybody very well, in my opinion.
“So he’s gonna catch when he’s supposed to catch, no matter who’s pitching that day. I think we’re at that point.”
DeGrom has posted a 1.16 ERA in six games with Nido as his batterymate this season, compared with a 4.50 ERA in seven starts caught by Ramos, one of the Mets’ key free-agent acquisitions last winter. The latter number also includes six innings of two-run ball with 10 strikeouts by deGrom with Ramos behind the plate in a 5-1 loss to Colorado last Friday.
“They did get on a roll, and I thought they were on the same page the other day,” Callaway said. “It was never as much about what was going on with Wilson calling games, or how Wilson was catching deGrom. It was more the fact that deGrom was having some success with Nido.
“So it was kind of independent of Wilson. But we’re at this point now where Jacob’s on a roll, he punched out 10 with Wilson the other day. He looked great, had electric stuff, he was executing his pitches. And if he does that, it doesn’t matter who’s catching him.”
Callaway also joked that the reporter who asked about the arrangement “could go out there and catch [deGrom] and he’s gonna win.”
The manager also had scoffed last week when asked about Nido possibly becoming deGrom’s personal catcher, saying, “We could [keep them together], but then in the playoffs we'd be running into a sticky situation.”
Ramos, 31, signed a two-year deal worth $19 million last winter. Entering Thursday’s game, he was batting .277 with 35 RBIs, which tied him for second on the Mets with Amed Rosario behind rookie Pete Alonso’s 49 RBIs.
DeGrom, who tossed a season-high 116 pitches, lost his chance for his fourth victory when Edwin Diaz blew a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth. DeGrom lowered his ERA to 3.38 overall, still nearly double the NL-best 1.70 he’d posted over 32 starts in 2018. He allowed one run on Matt Carpenter’s infield single against the shift in the third inning and another on Paul DeJong’s solo homer in the sixth.
“He’s a great pitcher,” Callaway said, “and he understands that it’s his ability to execute pitches that’s going to allow him to have success or not.”