Jacob deGrom: OK despite sagging fastball, call to trainer

ByAdam Rubin ESPN logo
Friday, September 2, 2016

NEW YORK -- This is not the image New York Mets fans wanted to see: Jacob deGrom headed into the tunnel that leads to the home clubhouse at Citi Field, motioning for trainer Ray Ramirez to follow him.

Given three days of extra rest after a pair of woeful starts, deGrom continued to struggle Thursday when he was reinserted into the rotation.

Then, after laboring through his fifth and final inning as his fastball sagged to as low as 91 mph, deGrom made the seemingly ominous motion for the medical staff.

The Mets ultimately lost to the Miami Marlins6-4 at Citi Field to drop two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League's second wild-card spot.

DeGrom initially said after the game that he "didn't feel great," but later defined that statement to mean from a mechanical perspective and offered no clarity on why he summoned Ramirez.

"Everthing's fine," deGrom said. "I was frustrated with how I pitched. I didn't feel great out there tonight. I just wanted to talk to Ray. ... I'm fine."

Pressed on what "didn't feel great" meant, deGrom added: "Just kind of out of sync out there. I waved him in to talk to him, but there's nothing wrong."

Manager Terry Collins was caught unaware during his postgame interview when told that deGrom had called for the trainer, but pledged to investigate.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Collins said. "I guess I've got to go check. Ray didn't say anything to me. But I haven't been in the training room, either. That's news to me."

Second baseman Neil Walker earlier in the day had become the latest Met to be lost for the season when he committed to undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back that had deprived him of the feeling in a toe.

DeGrom allowed three runs on six hits and a season-high-matching four walks in a five-inning, 102-pitch outing against the Marlins.

DeGrom had allowed 13 runs and 25 hits in 9 2/3 innings over his previous two outings. That had prompted Collins, citing suspected fatigue, to skip deGrom's scheduled turn in Monday's series opener.

Now, deGrom has allowed 40 baserunners and recorded 44 outs in his past three starts.

Collins initially planned to slot deGrom back into the rotation on Friday against the Washington Nationals, but he was moved up a day when Steven Matz had continued difficulty with a rotator-cuff impingement and the Mets aborted having the southpaw return from the disabled list.

"I don't think rest was really the problem," deGrom said.

In an unforeseen development considering how pitching-blessed they were to open the season, the Mets already are using rookies Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in the rotation. Any absence for deGrom could prompt them also to consider Gabriel Ynoa, Rafael Montero or Logan Verrett.

Montero had a spot start for deGrom on Monday against the Marlins and tossed five scoreless innings, although Montero also walked six batters and threw 100 pitches.

Assuming deGrom does have some undisclosed issue, the only healthy established starting pitchers at the moment are Noah Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon. Matt Harvey underwent season-ending surgery in July to address thoracic outlet syndrome. And Zack Wheeler is no longer expected back in 2016 after his latest setback in his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Wheeler was diagnosed two weeks ago with a flexor muscle strain.Even Syndergaard is pitching with a bone spur in his elbow, although the Mets have suggested it will not need to be surgically removed.

DeGrom insisted his issue is purely mechanical. He is falling off the mound to the first-base side, leaving him imbalanced and his fastball erratic.

"What did I walk, four guys? I can't throw the ball where I want right now," deGrom said. "I've got to figure that out. ... I think it's mechanical. Like I said, I feel fine. I got tired toward the end. And I've been falling off so hard to the first-base side. If you look back at film from last year, I could throw the ball and almost stand there on my landing leg. There's no even close to doing that this year."