Following the Mets’ 7-1 loss to the San Diego Padres in Friday night’s NL wild-card opener, manager Buck Showalter announced that deGrom would take the ball for Game 2 as New York faces elimination. The start will mark deGrom’s first career playoff appearance at Citi Field, and also will be his first postseason start since Game 2 of the 2015 World Series against the Kansas City Royals.
But deGrom said the pressure of keeping the Mets’ season alive doesn’t faze him.
“It would mean a lot [to keep the season going],” deGrom said. “I missed half of the year, and these guys did a great job. The other starters did a great job holding it down while me and Max [Scherzer] missed some time. I wanted to come here and contribute as much as I could. It’s a huge goal of mine to keep this going, and pass it along to [Chris] Bassitt.”
DeGrom dealt with blister issues during his final two starts of the regular season, leading to his departure from his last start against the Atlanta Braves after 86 pitches over six innings. The issue first surfaced on his middle finger during his previous appearance against the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 24.
DeGrom downplayed the severity of the blister when asked about it Friday.
“My finger feels fine,” deGrom said. “I feel like I could have kept going in Atlanta, but it was just like do we want to go too far where I’ve got to miss one or two with the plan of possibly pitching Wednesday. … The dead skin’s all peeled away and it feels fine.”
After missing the first half of the season because of a stress reaction in his right scapula, deGrom returned in the second half and pitched well, posting a 3.08 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in 11 starts while striking out 102 batters in 64⅓ innings pitched. Saturday will mark the second time in deGrom’s career that he will pitch in an elimination game. The first came in 2015, when deGrom went six innings and allowed two runs with seven strikeouts and three walks in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“That’s what we love doing, competing and going out there in big situations,” deGrom said. “You’re going out there, and you try to leave it all out on the field. You look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and know you gave 100 percent. That’s all you can do.”
In four postseason starts, deGrom has posted a 2.88 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 25 innings across four starts, all from 2015 when the Mets won the National League pennant. As New York faces elimination, the Mets hope deGrom’s strong postseason track record continues as the team tries to extend its season one more day.
“This will be my first time in seven years pitching in the postseason and first time at Citi Field, so I’m excited,” deGrom said. “You go out there and execute to the best of your abilities.”