Jacob deGrom is scheduled to return to action Tuesday night when he starts for the New York Mets against the visiting Colorado Rockies in the second game of a four-game series.
If the past 12 games are any indication, he has a pretty good chance of being welcomed back with the run support — or lack thereof — he experienced in his first seven seasons.
deGrom (3-2, 0.68 ERA) will try to serve as a stopper for the skidding Mets, who lost their third straight and fell for the seventh time in 10 games Monday. New York was limited to four hits in a 3-2 loss to the Rockies.
The Mets’ ace right-hander is slated to oppose left-hander Kyle Freeland, who is making his first start of the season, in a battle of pitchers expected to be activated off the injured list prior to the game.
deGrom last pitched for New York on May 9, when he earned the win after allowing one run on one hit over five innings in the Mets’ 4-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He opened with four perfect innings before laboring in the fifth, when he issued three walks. deGrom exited with right side soreness — the same ailment that cost him a start earlier that week — after trying to warm up for the sixth.
As difficult as it was for the Mets to lose a two-time Cy Young Award winner who appears to be pitching better than ever, the injury news got far worse for the team in his absence. New York placed seven players on the injured list since deGrom was shelved, including lineup mainstays Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso and starting pitcher Taijuan Walker, giving them 16 players on the IL.
In the 12 games since deGrom was injured, the Mets are 5-7 and have scored just 39 runs, tied for the third fewest in the majors. deGrom has pitched at least seven innings, allowed two runs or fewer and not received the win 33 times since reaching the majors in 2014.
“We’ve got to find a way to stay afloat until we start welcoming back our guys,” said New York’s James McCann, who made his first professional appearance at first base Monday and homered while making a pair of impressive plays in the field.
The Rockies, who snapped a seven-game road losing streak Monday and improved to 3-17 away from Coors Field this season, will hope the return of their former ace helps them win back-to-back road games for the first time since last Sept. 5-6.
Freeland went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA — the lowest ever by a Rockies starting pitcher — and finished fourth in the National League Cy Young balloting when deGrom won the award for the first time in 2018.
However, Freeland went just 5-14 with a 5.76 ERA the following two seasons combined. He sustained a left shoulder strain during a Cactus League start March 23 but posted a 1.80 ERA in two rehab starts for Triple-A Albuquerque covering 10 innings over the past 10 days.
He likely will be on a pitch count Tuesday, but pitching coach Steve Foster said Monday he was hopeful Freeland could provide the length the Rockies became accustomed to in 2018.
“If he’s managed his pitches and he’s under 90 pitches and he’s in the sixth or seventh inning, that would be great,” Foster said. “Anything above that would be really great.”
deGrom made an almost comically dominant rehab start for low Class-A St. Lucie on Thursday, when he struck out eight in three scoreless, hitless innings.
deGrom is 5-1 with a 1.12 ERA in eight career starts against the Rockies. Freeland is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three games (two starts) against the Mets.
–Field Level Media