Last night, Mets ace Jacob deGrom fought through just five innings in a loss to the Marlins, allowing four walks and three runs, and his normally electric fastball was clocked as slow as 91 MPH. This was the third straight rough outing for deGrom, who has allowed 16 runs over his last 14.2 innings and seen his ERA rise from 2.29 to 3.04. After Terry Collins took him out, deGrom called for the Mets trainer to join him in the clubhouse.
After surging to the World Series last October, and a successful offseason, the Mets were expected to be one of the best teams in the National League this year. But injuries killed them. Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and deGrom all spent time on the disabled list, while Zach Wheeler never made it back from Tommy John Surgery as expected. Travis d’Arnaud has been hurt and ineffective. Lucas Duda and David Wright both went down for the season with back problems. And now Neil Walker is out for the rest of the year with back problems of his own. Juan Lagares and Yoenis Cespedes have also been on the disabled list as well.
As a result, the Mets are just four games above .500 (69-65), and two games out of the final NL Wild Card spot. Baseball Prospectus gives them just a 39.2 percent chance of making the postseason at this point. If deGrom is fighting a problem, or worse if he succumbs to it, that may as well essentially be zero.
For his part, he says “everything’s fine. I was frustrated with how I pitched. I didn’t feel great out there tonight…[but] I’m fine.” The velocity dip, the bad stretch, and the call to the trainer may suggest otherwise, and we’ve certainly heard athletes downplay their physical issues to avoid causing a panic and to stay on the field before. However, with the starting rotation already including Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero, and something called Robert Gsellman, the Mets desperately need deGrom to be right.
If he is, they still have a puncher’s chance of making the postseason. There, their big three of deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Bartolo Colon give them as much of a chance as anybody to take the NL pennant. It’s looking right now like that’s a pretty big if, though.