Mets win behind Jacob deGrom’s gutsy performance
By Ryan Punzalan
In the most important game of his life, Jacob deGrom looked like he was going to get clobbered in the Mets’ 3-2 victory over the Dodgers. He allowed two runs in the first inning, had trouble locating his fastball early, and was tossing hanging breaking balls to every hitter he faced.
Yet deGrom proved he was a bona fide ace and chugged along to six effective innings en route to his second victory in the NLDS. He struck out seven batters, walked three, served up six hits and allowed two runs to score (all in the first inning)..
In a way, this was his worst start in exactly a month.
We’ve been spoiled by deGrom and how easy his starts have been for Mets fans. But if you didn’t watch the game and saw a line of six innings, three walks, and two earned runs, you’re probably wondering what happened to reigning National League Rookie of the Year.
Sure it wasn’t spectacular on paper, but that being said, it was his performance on the field that was more indicative of how incredible he is.
Don’t take my word for it, here’s what pitching coach Dan Warthen had to say:
That’s exactly right, Dan. The man had, quite possibly, the grittiest pitching performance the Mets have ever seen.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the first three innings of deGrom’s start last night:
That’s 27 total pitches, two runs scored, and four straight hits.
Even Howie Kendrick‘s line-out was scorched to Lucas Duda.
Now 18 total pitches, no hits, one walk, and one batter reached due to error.
A somewhat calmer inning compared to the first, but with 45 total pitches thrown in the first two innings, many worried that deGrom might not even make it to the fourth or fifth inning.
Finally, 14 pitches, one hit, one walk, and one gigantic double-play ball.
If you’re looking for the turning point of the entire evening, this is where you’ll see it. After chucking up 45 pitches in the first two innings, deGrom had to do two things: 1) Quickly get out of the innings unscathed, and 2) Houdini out of trouble with men on the corners and only one out.
And deGrom did.
But credit must also be given to Terry Collins. He visited deGrom on the mound with men on the corners with only one out.
In his post-game comments, Collins said he went out there not to take deGrom out, but to relay one message — it was to get the double play.
And deGrom did. He absolutely did.
Collins could’ve taken deGrom out as soon as he walked Yasmani Grandal in the third, and some might argue deGrom could’ve been pulled in the latter-half of the second inning.
But he stayed in there.
Collins trusted that deGrom could get out of the jam.
For a manager that has received a ton of criticism throughout the season, Collins absolutely made the right call in this situation.
And not only that, but this inning was huge because it set the stage for the subsequent three innings of work.
In the first three innings, deGrom allowed eight batters to reach base, one via error. In his last three innings of work, deGrom only allowed two players to reach base — a fourth inning walk to Joc Pederson and a fifth inning double to Justin Turner.
Seemingly after the third inning, things started clicking for deGrom. His fastball command was still wild, but he finally had his breaking pitches, which was huge.
Ron Darling alluded to how deGrom focused primarily on his fastball in Game 1. Immediately in the first inning, Darling noted how uncontrollable his fastball was and saw a spike in breaking balls.
When deGrom is on, he’s touching 99- 100-mph quite steadily. Last night, it seemed as if his fastball only peaked at around 97- 98-mph, and when your bread and butter is that dazzling fastball, those two or three mph make a world of a difference.
Seeing deGrom in such a quagmire early in the game was incredibly disheartening for fans. To see him miraculously escape it and become the deGrom we all know and love was something we’ve never seen before.
On a night which started with a ceremonial first pitch from Dodgers legend Orel Hershiser, it was only fitting for Howie Rose to close out the night quite appropriately: “Jacob deGrom, every bit the bulldog that Orel Hershiser was all those years ago.”
Last night, the Dodgers saw a new bulldog, and his name is Jacob deGrom.
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