Jacob deGrom pitches against the Miami Marlins on May 23, 2018, at Citi Field.

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Palladino: Frustrated Jacob DeGrom Has Seen Too Many Blown Leads Already

Mets Pitcher Has No Wins To Show For Last 2 Gems

Ernie Palladino
May 30, 2018 - 10:43 am
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Jacob deGrom should have grown numb to watching his superb mound outings blow up at the hands of a shaky Mets bullpen.

No pitcher ever gets used to all that sweat and toil going to waste like it did in Monday’s doubleheader opener in Atlanta. Only thing is this has sadly become a norm for the staff ace ever since he put on a big league uniform in 2014.

That wonderful right-hander has seen so many well-pitched games turn into no-decisions since then that it’s a wonder how he hasn’t chewed through a dugout railing or two in frustration.

Just this year alone, he has started 11 games and come away with just four decisions, all wins. His 1.52 ERA tops all National League pitchers, as does a 0.4 home run rate over nine innings.

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If the Mets ever had a shot at a 20-game winner, this guy is it. But nobody gets to that level without the decisions, and certainly in this day and age of mix-and-match relievers, they don’t get there without a bullpen that protects leads.

Unfortunately, deGrom has rarely benefited from such blessings. Take Monday, for instance. Seven innings of one-run, eight-strikeout ball went out the window just like that when Seth Lugo came on and gave up an eighth-inning tying run, got a second lead in the ninth on Devin Mesoraco’s homer and then lost that and the game, 4-3, on Charlie Culberson’s homer.

DeGrom expressed a degree of frustration over that one, but that’s no surprise. In his previous start, he left with a 1-0 lead after seven innings, only to see Jeurys Familia blow his fourth save of the year and take the loss in a two-run ninth.

That’s two straight starts -- one run over 14 innings -- and the Mets have nothing to show for it but an 0-2 record. Sad.

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Making matters worse are his last seven starts, in which he’s pitched to a 0.45 ERA and opponents are 0-for-28 against him with runners in scoring position.

For all that, he’s just 2-0 over that span. And the team is 2-5.

It would be wrong to claim deGrom is the sole recipient of such misfortune. Manager Mickey Callaway’s bullpen has blown games all year. Ten, in fact, with Familia and Robert Gsellman leading the way with four each.

Only the Dodgers and Tigers have blown more.

In some ways, it’s reminiscent of what Billy Martin faced when he managed Oakland in the early 1980s. It was a different time then, when managers weren’t afraid to let their starters throw 140 pitches in a single outing.

Martin took it to an extreme, though, especially since his bullpen couldn’t hold a lead to save its collective life. One day, he let Brian Kingman take a real beating rather than call for a reliever.

When questioned about it afterward, Martin bristled.

“What do you want me to do?” he snarled. “The way things are now, that’s like throwing kerosene all over the mound!”

Callaway probably feels the same way. Only in this day of analytics and injury awareness, he’s not about to push a starter past a certain limit. And had his spring training plans for a multifaceted bullpen worked out, the Mets would be comfortably above .500 instead of feeling lucky about 26-26 after Tuesday's loss in Atlanta.

Instead, Familia has become a liability. Anthony Swarzak is still on the DL.AJ Ramos has a sore shoulder. Jerry Blevins hasn’t been effective lately. And anyone who thinks Hansel Robles is a long-term answer for anything should have a sanity check.

It’s a mess right now, and not even Monday’s nightcap bailout can change that perception.      

Unfortunately, the least-deserving guy gets the worst of it.

But that has happened to deGrom for far too long. Excuse him for feeling a bit frustrated.

He’s a team guy, though, less worried about his own stats than the Mets’ record.

He’ll just have to keep slinging that Cy Young stuff and hope that somebody out there can protect a lead.

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino