The struggling Mets got another dose of optimism Sunday when the side’s all-season assistant, Jacob Degrom, won five of the six hits he faced at the start of Class A rehab St. Lucie.
Eighteen of DeGrom’s 24 pitches went to hits, with a fast ball topping 100 mph. He hit the only beating he didn’t hit.
Combine that advance with Max Scherzer’s expected return from the injured list this week, and the Mets’ on-court staff could finally become what general manager Billy Eppler envisioned in the off-season. The team will need all the help they can get given how poorly their attacking performance has been in recent weeks.
“I felt like I was in control of everything,” Degrom told reporters after Sunday’s start. “The main thing was to try to locate Fastball and get off that. Everything is fine.”
Far more important than Degrom’s finding in his six-stroke appearance, he said, is that his shoulder, which has kept him out since spring training due to a stress reaction in his shoulder, wasn’t limiting him.
“It feels one hundred percent,” he said. “Because it was a bone – you can’t really push it. I had to wait for the bones to heal and move on from there.”
Despite the vigorous outing, and the lack of pain, DeGrom is expected to need several minor starts before making his way back into the big business.
The Mets have gotten off to a strong start this season, and even with a sharp dip in attack, they have maintained their lead over the Atlanta Braves in the Eastern National League. That’s despite Scherzer having only made eight appearances, and Degrum hasn’t started a major league game since July 7 last season.
The defining seasons of this first half were strong seasons from Taijuan Walker (6-2, 2.72 ERA) and David Peterson (5-1, 3.24), who helped offset injuries not only to Degerum and Scherzer but also to Taylor Miguel, the right-hander who has racked up some Promising results earlier this season before he landed on the list with his strained shoulder. Chris Bassett, the 2021 All-Star with Oakland acquired in spring training, was put on the infected list on July 1, but the lack of an injury classification suggests his absence may be related to the coronavirus rather than anything wrong. his arm.
Even Scherzer and deGrom may need more help than their Mets hitters have been providing in the past few weeks. After winning two of three at home in the weekend series against the Texas Rangers, the Mets are still 29th in the big business in base as well as a slowdown (0.639) over the last 15 days, with the Oakland Athletics having less of them. Pete Alonso continued to perform, but every other Mets hitter had a sharp dip, none more so than Mark Kanha, the veteran defensive player who has earned a 3 in his last 34 this off season.
If the Mets are hoping to hold off Atlanta, which is on a strong run as they did last season after a difficult start, boosting health and getting back into shape for the squad’s hitters will be crucial.