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Jacob deGrom dominates, Mets’ bullpen melts down to start the season

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The Mets lost in painful fashion in Philadelphia.

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

All of this might sound familiar: Jacob deGrom was great, the Mets wasted significant opportunities at the plate, and the Mets’ bullpen blew the game.

deGrom sat at 100 miles per hour, and while he relied heavily on the fastball and didn’t look entirely sharp, he was more than good enough to keep the Phillies off the board in his six innings of work. To be fair, he got a little help from Kevin Pillar and Jeff McNeil in the bottom of the first, as those two combined to throw out Rhys Hoskins—who came very close to hitting a home run—as he tried to leg out a triple.

In total, deGrom threw six innings, struck out seven, walked two, and allowed three hits, throwing just 77 pitches in the process. On paper, that looks like deGrom should have stayed in the game longer, and perhaps he should have. But with the Mets having dealt with a four-day delay in starting their season because the Nationals had multiple COVID cases, it was at least defensible.

Having been stymied in the early going by Matt Moore, who spent last year playing in Japan and had struggled for several years before that, the Mets’ lineup finally plated a run in the top of the fourth inning. James McCann drove in that run with a single, and deGrom helped his own cause by singling in a run of his own.

The Mets still had the bases loaded with one out after the deGrom single, and the Phillies turned to right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler. Mets manager Luis Rojas opted to let Kevin Pillar, who was due up next in the leadoff spot, stay in the game to face him—despite having said earlier in the day that the Mets’ plan was to get Pillar at-bats against Moore and get Dom Smith into the game once the Phillies turned to their right-handed relievers.

The decision didn’t go well. Pillar grounded into an inning-ending double play, and the Mets’ bats went silent for the next few innings.

While Miguel Castro threw a scoreless seventh inning, things went far worse for the Mets’ bullpen in the eighth. Trevor May struck out the first batter he faced, bu he loaded the bases on a single, a walk, and another single. With Bryce Harper coming up next, Rojas turned to Aaron Loup, who promptly plunked him to score the Phillies’ first run of the night.

And with the three-batter rule still around, Loup had to stay in the game—only to allow a game-tying single to J.T. Realmuto. And he was still in the game when he got a ground ball to third base from Alec Bohm, but Luis Guillorme’s throw home tipped off McCann’s glove. Whichever player you want to place the blame upon, the Mets failed to get the out and allowed two runs on the play. The Phillies tacked on one more on a Didi Gregorius sac fly.

The Mets eked out a run in the top of the ninth on a pair of two-out singles from Pillar and Francisco Lindor—who made some smooth plays in the field earlier in the night—and an RBI single from Michael Conforto. But Pete Alonso flied out to the warning track in right field to end the game.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Jacob deGrom, +36.6% WPA (pitching), Jacob deGrom, +11.4% WPA (hitting)
Big losers: Aaron Loup, -58.4% WPA, Trevor May, -20.8% WPA, Kevin Pillar -19.5% WPA, Jeff McNeil, -11.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -34.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: -15.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jacob deGrom singles in a run in the fourth, +8.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: J.T. Realmuto single to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth, -21.5% WPA