The Washington Nationals already knew they wouldn’t see Jacob deGrom this weekend. The New York Mets hope each game of the series brings them a little closer to the return of their ace right-hander.
DeGrom’s status is likely to dominate the conversation for the Mets in the four-game, three-day series that begins Friday when left-hander Joey Lucchesi (1-4, 5.18 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for visiting New York against right-hander Erick Fedde (4-4, 3.86).
The Nationals were off Thursday after running their winning streak to four games Wednesday, when they beat the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 to complete a three-game sweep. The Mets missed a chance to sweep a four-game home series against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night when they were blanked 2-0.
Hours before Thursday’s game, deGrom — who left Wednesday’s start with a sore shoulder after striking out eight over three perfect innings — underwent an MRI that didn’t reveal any serious injuries.
“(What) it just shows is a normal shoulder,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas, whose entire pregame press conference consisted of questions about deGrom (6-2), who is off to a historic start — his 0.54 ERA is the lowest ever for a starter through 11 starts — but who has exited three starts due to three separate injuries.
DeGrom left a start against the Arizona Diamondbacks after five one-hit innings on May 9 due to a sore right side. He missed the next 16 days and is 3-0 with a 0.33 ERA in five starts since his return, though he left his appearance against the San Diego Padres on June 11 after six innings because of right flexor tendinitis.
On Thursday, Rojas didn’t rule out the possibility deGrom could take his next turn Monday in one game of a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. DeGrom played catch Thursday afternoon, which is the standard beginning of his between-starts routine.
“Today, we’re not thinking of an IL stint,” Rojas said. “We’re just going to go day-by-day. He’s going to play catch and see how he feels, and we’re going to keep paying attention to it.”
The Nationals will look to ensure this weekend that the Mets need to keep paying attention to them. Washington, which hasn’t been over .500 since a season-opening win over the Braves on April 6 and has been below the break-even mark since May 4, is in fourth place in the National League East, seven games behind first-place New York.
The Nationals’ recent surge — they are 5-2 in the past seven games — has been fueled by solid pitching. Washington has surrendered just seven runs in the seven games.
“They’re coming out, they’re pitching with conviction — they really are — and they’re throwing strikes,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday. “I tell them all the time: Our defense is good. You don’t have to strike everybody out. Get early outs, let them put the ball in play. And they’ve done that.”
Lucchesi didn’t factor into the decision Sunday, when he allowed one run over five innings in the Mets’ 7-3 loss to the San Diego Padres. Fedde earned the win in the opener of a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants last Saturday, when he tossed five scoreless innings in the Nationals’ 2-0 victory.
Lucchesi is 1-0 with a 5.79 ERA in three career starts against the Nationals. Fedde is 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in nine games (four starts) against the Mets.
–Field Level Media