Monday afternoon, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom returned to the mound for the first time since . It was minor enough that he did not require an injured list stint, and the fact deGrom came out throwing 99-101 mph against the Braves is a pretty good indication he's feeling strong.
As usual, deGrom was masterful Monday, holding Atlanta to one hit and two walks in five shutout innings in the first game of their doubleheader (NYM 4, ATL 2). His scoreless streak is up to 30 innings, and he's allowed no more than one earned run in 12 straight starts. It is the longest such streak since earned runs became an official stat in 1913, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson in 1968.
The no-hitter was lost with two outs in the fifth inning, when Braves catcher Kevan Smith lifted a long fly ball to left-center field. Left fielder Dominic Smith and center fielder Albert Almora Jr. had a communication issue, and the ball dropped in. The fly ball had a .030 expected batting average based on exit velocity and launch angle, according to Statcast.
Monday is also the first day of MLB's new foreign substance enforcement protocols. MLB is cracking down on the widespread use of sticky stuff, and as part of the new protocols, starting pitchers will be checked for foreign substances at least once per game. Relievers will be checked at the end of the inning or when they exit the game, and there will be random checks throughout.
DeGrom became the first pitcher inspected for foreign substances as part of the new enforcement protocols. The umpires were not picking on him, it was simple scheduling. He was the first pitcher to pitch Monday, so he was the first pitcher checked. deGrom's glove, hat, and belt were checked as he came off the mound following a 1-2-3 first inning. Here's the inspection:
The umpires found nothing unsavory on deGrom's person and he was allowed to continue (he was checked again after the fifth inning). Braves lefty Kyle Muller was inspected after the bottom of the first inning and was clean as well. Foreign substances violators will be ejected and suspended 10 days with pay.
DeGrom, 33, now owns a 0.50 ERA in 12 starts. He's struck out 117 batters against only 10 walks in 72 innings, and he has more runs driven in as a hitter (five) than earned runs allowed as a pitcher (four). CBS Sports' R.J. Anderson took a look at how his fastball is better than ever in 2021.