Where did Jacob deGrom come from, anyway?
I’d heard of him, of course, but not in a Matt Harvey/Zack Wheeler/Noah Syndergaard way, in which each mention is part of a countdown, the promotion becomes a rallying cry, and if the first big-league start comes at home you figure out if you can go so years later you can tell people you were there. DeGrom wasn’t even Rafael Montero, an intriguing arm not quite considered in that elite company. In February I wrote that deGrom might turn into “a Gee type” (which, to be clear, was considerable praise) and if you’d asked me for a fuller scouting report I would have identified him as a useful piece — spot starter, maybe, or a middle reliever, or a guy to spin off as part of a trade. As far as I can tell, that was the first time Jacob deGrom had ever been mentioned in these pages.
Now he might very well turn out to be Rookie of the Year. To quote Joaquin Andujar‘s favorite word, “you never know.”
We first noticed deGrom for his otherworldly hair, and then mourned his tendency to be snakebit — he didn’t record his first win until his eighth start in late June, despite pitching pretty well up until then. Recently, though, all he’s done is win — his last five starts have all been superb outings ending with Ws by his name. He’s got a solid sinker that generates ground balls, a four-seamer he uses up in the zone to change hitters’ eye levels, and breaking stuff that’s progressing. He throws strikes and is clearly unafraid.
It’s pretty awesome.
Emily and I almost went Saturday night — after I caught up with Greg to talk Mets before the cameras (more on that in a minute), my wife and I went out for Thai food in Woodside and tried to decide between continuing along the 7 to Citi Field and Fireworks Night or heading south to catch the Cyclones for Star Wars Night. We settled on neither — we were tired and allowed ourselves to admit that what we most wanted was our own couch. I turned on SNY just in time to see Juan Lagares fly through the air to take a double away from Brandon Belt — an amazing play even by Lagares’s ridiculous standards, as he seemed like he had actually accelerated while airborne.
DeGrom cruised along after that, but the Mets were being stifled by Bosox castoff Jake Peavy, who hadn’t won a game since April. Both reached the seventh without having given up a hit, and Peavy was working on a perfect game.
Neither would get his wish. DeGrom’s bid for immortality evaporated on a Pablo Sandoval double in the top of the seventh that Lagares gave an ill-advised courtesy dive for. Peavy, meanwhile, had his world cave in when the Mets batted. The trouble started with nobody out: Sandoval smashed into the fence chasing a Curtis Granderson pop-up that landed several rows deep, gashing his leg on a sound mike. The trainers took a minute or two to attend to him, and when Peavy got back on the rubber things didn’t seem the same. He got Granderson on a hard drive to Hunter Pence, then Daniel Murphy roped a ball to left. It should have been caught, but Michael Morse (who nearly killed me a couple of years ago on a different Star Wars Night) took a Family Circus route to the ball and it fell in. Then, in rapid succession, Peavy gave up a David Wright single, hit Lucas Duda with a pitch, watched Travis d’Arnaud hit a hard liner for a sac fly, surrendered a single to Lagares and then watched a double down the line from Wilmer Flores. Somehow it was 4-0 Mets and things had turned decidedly imperfect.
Things got dicey in the eighth as deGrom seemed to tire and dicier in the ninth, as Jenrry Mejia did his best to convert a double play into a horrible error and threw a hanging curve that Morse somehow missed instead of turning into a game-tying homer. Either could have proved fatal; neither did, and the Mets had won.
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Before the game Greg and I met up in Queens to talk about the ’86 Mets in front of the cameras for Heather Quinlan’s forthcoming ’86 Mets: The Movie. Heather’s a terrific documentary filmmaker and a diehard Mets fan, and we had a great time answering her questions and shooting the breeze. You can read more about the project here, here and here, and follow it on Twitter here. And please contribute to the project’s Kickstarter — among other things, your support will go to travel costs for more interviews with ’86 Mets and securing footage. We’re grateful to Heather for letting us share our ’86 memories and perspectives and looking forward to what we know will be a great film.