Friday afternoon at Citi Field, deGrom handcuffed the Atlanta Braves for five innings, in the Mets 2020 season opener, and it was only a pitch limit that forced him to exit the game. DeGrom missed time with a back issue during summer camp and the Mets are taking it easy on him early in the regular season.
The lone hit was a broken bat single and deGrom went to an 0-2 or 1-2 count on 10 of the 17 batters he faced. Those 72 pitches produced 17 swings and misses. DeGrom had 17-plus whiffs in 13 of his 32 starts last season, but he threw at least 94 pitches in each of those 13 starts, and at least 102 pitches in 11 of those 13 starts.
When your fastball averages -- averages -- 98.2 mph and you're slinging 93 mph sliders like deGrom on Friday, you're going to dominate. This is unhittable:
Alas, the Mets scored zero runs while deGrom was on the mound Friday, continuing a theme that dates back at least two years. Despite his greatness -- deGrom has a 2.03 ERA in 426 innings since Opening Day 2018 -- the Mets went 28-36 in deGrom's 64 starts the last two seasons because they simply don't score when he's on the mound.
Here is last season's run support leaderboard (min. 180 innings):
- Sandy Alcantara, Marlins: 3.1 runs per nine innings
- Matthew Boyd, Tigers: 4.0
- Jacob deGrom, Mets: 4.1
- Several tied at 4.2
That's no way to treat your ace and the reigning two-time Cy Young award winner. DeGrom walks a tightrope seemingly every time he takes the mound and he's often up to the task. It's remarkable, truly, how great he is and how little run support he gets.
DeGrom is riding an MLB best 28-inning scoreless streak dating back to last season. He is chasing his third straight Cy Young -- only Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux have done that (they each won four straight) -- and, as his 2018-19 seasons show, voters are willing to overlook low win totals. Few prevent runs as well as deGrom.
While the lack of run support is no doubt frustrating, the most important takeaway from Friday's start is that deGrom looks healthy., and for a while it was unclear whether he could pitch Opening Day. DeGrom sure looked healthy Friday though. He was dominant.
NYM 1, ATL 0). It was the game's only run. The Mets have now won 39 of their last 51 season openers.(