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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Everything Is Jake

Jacob deGrom was good. He was really good.

Not so long ago, this wouldn’t have been a surprising thing to write. But it’s been a surprising season, to put it mildly.

The key to deGrom’s successful night was that he reintroduced his change-up to complement his fastball. In the postgame debrief, DeGrom passed along analysis from Dan Warthen that he’d thrown the change 4% of the time this year, compared with 20% in years past. Delve a little deeper into the postgame comments and you wound up in chicken-and-the-egg territory: deGrom had shelved the change-up because it kept floating up to the plate and getting hammered, and so worked on his mechanics to keep himself closed and restore the change-up’s bite. Which led to reclaiming the pitch. Or maybe it was the other way around.

But then pitching is often chicken-and-the-egg stuff, with mechanics and command and confidence all in the mix and solutions hard to tease out. Whatever Jake had been doing wasn’t working — he got mauled by the Brewers and then by the Rangers, and suddenly looked like the outlier with Zack Wheeler continuing to improve, Matt Harvey achieving better results and Seth Lugo and Steven Matz returning with debuts better than we’d dared imagine.

One run over nine innings — yes, that was a Met starter with a complete game — ought to take care of that narrative.

Flies in the ointment? But of course — this is still the Mets, after all. Seeing deGrom throw 116 pitches made me cringe, even if the last one was a 97 MPH fastball that erased Willson Contreras for the win. DeGrom hit 118 pitches in his turn as a fairy-tale hero against the Pirates, a number he’d only exceeded twice in his career, and that outing was followed by the two stinkers. Correlation isn’t causation, of course, but there’s no arguing the chronology.

Still, I’m inclined to forgive both deGrom and Terry Collins for this one. DeGrom clearly wanted an emphatic notice that he’s not the pitcher we saw slumped on the bench in Texas with a consoling managerial arm around his shoulders. A complete game would be a marker for the entire pitching staff, whose competition has turned healthy of late. And goodness knows the relief corps doesn’t need anything added to the odometer. (Jerry Blevins was unavailable and Addison Reed was iffy.)

On the other side of the ball, Asdrubal Cabrera declared himself not dead yet with a pair of home runs, and Jay Bruce chipped in another one — that’s 17 in what’s shaping up as a pretty interesting season for a Plan B outfielder that plenty of people (including me) wanted to leave by the curb in Port St. Lucie. Though Yoenis Cespedes came out of the game with leg issues, and Michael Conforto never got into the game with a sore back.

Cespedes’s leg issues, we’re told, have nothing to do with his balky and less-than-completely healed hamstring — this was a sore left heel. Oh, OK. On the one hand, I suppose that’s good because it’s not the hamstring but something else. On the other … it’s something else.

But that’s a pretty good description of this season, come to think of it. Accompany it with a smile, a groan or just an all-encompassing shrug, but it’s been something else.

* * *

Were you at Shea Stadium the night of the ’77 blackout? If you were, Patrick Sauer would like to talk with you for an article. He’s @pjsauer over on Twitter, or email him here. Thanks!

14 comments to Everything Is Jake

  • Matt in Richmond

    I’ve always thought the concept of pitchers who work fast and have the ball put in play getting better defense was one of those silly baseball sophisms. Something announcers would say just to appear to be insightful. But last night might have (slightly) changed my mind. In addition to all the gorgeous double plays, Cabrera and Reyes made multiple outstanding individual plays and the whole team just seemed energized. Fun to watch.

  • 9th string catcher

    (insert pic of Belushi chugging Jack Daniels) Thanks. We needed that.

    Maybe the 6 man rotation can afford longer pitch counts and allow starters to get into the 7th inning? I have no idea if that would work, but would like to see if it could.

  • LeClerc

    Yes – Jake’s June evening masterpiece.

    Love those ground ball outs. Love those 4-6-3 double plays.

  • Gil

    Double plays galore! A complete game. Tip the cap to Mr. deGrom.

    When the shortstop calls the ball, it’s his.

    Why is Cespedes in a uniform? TJ is in Las Vegas where he does not belong and we have ample outfielders and are not having trouble scoring runs and we’ve brought back a player who CANNOT RUN. I’m sick of seeing this guy limping around.

    • Matt in Woodside

      I’m totally baffled by the decision to bring Cespedes back now. It’s a crucial stretch of games for sure, but the team wasn’t having trouble generating offense. I want to see him in the lineup, but not if it means checking in with Ramirez and Collins every half inning. It just seems like another month on the DL waiting to happen.

  • Eric

    Mets win 4 in a row with 4 to climb for .500. Nationals lose 4 in a row. Mets are 8.5 out. Suddenly, the Mets winning formula entering the season is switched on. The Mets aren’t running with the lead pack yet, but they’re at least back to not falling out of the race.

    The Mets’ next off day is on the 26th after the Giants series, which is a qualified off day because they’re travelling from SF to Miami. So I understand Collins and Warthen pushing deGrom about 10 extra pitches (115 seems to be his pitch marker now instead of the usual 105) with the 6-man rotation, hopefully squeezing out an extra inning per start, and thereby help to hide the worse relievers and recover the good relievers. deGrom is coming back from surgery, too, but the Mets are apparently less worried about nursing him than they are with Harvey, Lugo, and Matz. Even in good form, Harvey’s effectiveness usually drops off around pitch 100, anyway. Wheeler and Gsellman’s pitch markers seem to be at 105. Maybe they’ll go up to 115 with the 6-man rotation, too.

    Cespedes worries me. The Mets committed to him long term, but he’s not a 5-tool player anymore if his legs don’t work.

  • eric1973

    As Lucas Duda (0-13) begins his first prolonged slump of the season, we are now honored to present:

     “Ode to Lucas Duda”
    (Sung to the tune of ‘Camptown Races’)

    Hits 8 homers in a week
    Du-da Du-da
    Then goes on the coldest streak
    O Duda day
    4 weeks, he’s the best
    22 weeks, takes a rest
    Never seems to pass the test
    O Duda day

  • Ken K. in NJ

    A chronic sore left heel since his days in Cuba that we never heard about until around 10PM last night. Most sudden but actually chronic Met malady since Valley Fever.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Terry is improving. Last time he let Jake throw 118 pitches with 8-1 lead–last night just 116 pitches with 6-1 lead. And unlike this start, he gets no extra day of rest unless they (wisely) go to 6-man rotation.

    Cabrera still has a ways to go for HRs to catch up to errors. Even last night he just gained ground by just one.

    Will this be Cespedes-rushed-back 2.0 this year? And yes, the contract was sketchy from the start for guy who will seemingly always have leg issues and miss a lot of time. Will he even be average in outfield in two years? Yes, he will likely always be a big slugger–but look around MLB. There are dozens of them, with names like “Adam Duvall” and the like.

  • Curt

    Sorry I missed it. Realized last night that apparently MLBtv restrictions apply to when the team within your restricted area – in my case Chicago & Cincy – plays, whether it’s home or away. I figured it was just road games, and I don’t get WGN.

    We’re up to 24th in the league in team ERA. Woo-hoo! Pathetic that I’m celebrating us being in front of just 6 other teams in pitching but it beats being DFL.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Lucas Duda OPS .882
    Anthony Rizzo (considered the gold standard at the position)
    OPS .862

    The thing about Duda is even when he isn’t hitting he provides lineup protection, he draws walks, and he plays superb defense.

    It was a funny song though.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Cabrera DL-ed again with same injury he was rushed back with before. TJ called up–not Rosario, even as Mets may be making move upward. Meaning Reyes full-time SS.

    • Pete In Iowa

      The thought of pop fly Reyes regularly in the line up makes me cringe.

    • Matt in Woodside

      Cabrera’s injury hasn’t been aggravated. He has said it hurts to bat right handed, and the team is about to face as many as six left handed starters in the next 10 games. Lester and Montgomery (definitely), and possibly Gonzalez, Kershaw, Hill, and Ryu. So this is a temporary move. I agree with the team’s philosophy. Bring Rosario up when the Mets are planning for him to stay.