Mets’ Jacob deGrom dominates rehab start

The struggling Mets got another dose of optimism on Sunday when Jacob deGrom, the team’s all-season layoff co-ace, defeated five of the six hitters he faced in a rehab start for Class A St. Lucie.

Eighteen of deGrom’s 24 pitches went for strikes, with his fastball topping 100 mph. He hit the only batter he didn’t knock out.

Combine that advancement with Max Scherzer’s anticipated return from the injured list this week, and the Mets’ pitching team could finally become what General Manager Billy Eppler envisioned this offseason. The team will need all the help they can get given how poor their offense has been over the past few weeks.

“I felt like I was in control,” deGrom told reporters after Sunday’s launch. “The main thing was to locate the fastball and throw it down. Everything felt good.”

Far more important than deGrom’s results in his six-batter performance, he said his shoulder, which has sidelined him since spring training due to a stress reaction in his shoulder blade, isn’t limiting him.

“It feels 100 percent,” he said. “Because it was bone – you can’t really push it. I had to wait for the bone to heal and go from there.”

Despite the strong showing and lack of pain, deGrom is expected to need several minor league starts before returning to the majors.

The Mets have gotten off to a terrific start this season, and despite a sharp dip on offense, they’ve maintained their lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. This is despite Scherzer only having started eight games and deGrom not having started a major league game since July 7 of last season.

Crucial to this first half were strong seasons by Taijuan Walker (6-2, 2.72 ERA) and David Peterson (5-1, 3.24), which contributed to the injuries not only to deGrom and Scherzer, but also to equalized by Tylor Megill. a right-hander who produced some promising results earlier this season before ending up on the injury list with a strained shoulder. Chris Bassitt, a 2021 All-Star with Oakland who was acquired at a spring training deal, was placed on the injured list on July 1, but the lack of an injury designation suggested it was a coronavirus-related absence rather than anything Acting wrong could be a seesaw.

Even Scherzer and deGrom could use more help than the Mets’ thugs have provided in recent weeks. After claiming two of three home wins in a weekend series against the Texas Rangers, the Mets still rank 29th in the majors in on-base plus slugging percentage (.639) over the past 15 days, trailing only the Oakland Athletics . Pete Alonso has continued to perform, but almost every other Mets hitter has suffered a severe downturn, none more so than Mark Canha, a veteran outfielder who acquired this offseason and who is 3 for his last 34.

If the Mets hope to hold off Atlanta, which, like last season, is on the rise after a difficult start, health and a return to form for the team’s sluggers will be crucial.