Three weeks ago, deGrom had two of the worst starts of his career, giving up 15 runs over eight combined innings in consecutive losses, to the Texas Rangers and the Milwaukee Brewers.
DeGrom has been working to improve his mechanics and his command. For the past month, he has thrown two light bullpen sessions, instead of the standard one, between starts. He sought advice from the Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, who used the same approach throughout most of his career.
That has made deGrom more comfortable in his delivery.
“The effort level is way down, but it’s about being on the mound and being familiar with it,” he said.
And the result has been a dominant three-start stretch. The Mets’ use of a six-man rotation these past two weeks provided extra rest and allowed the team to increase deGrom’s pitch count.
DeGrom had a complete-game gem on June 12 and a stellar eight-inning start six days later. Over his past 25 innings, he has allowed only three runs (two earned), struck out 19 and lowered his E.R.A. to 3.71.
DeGrom’s pitches displayed pinpoint location and deceptive movement in carving up the Giants’ lineup.
“Just mixing it up and being able to locate every pitch when I needed to,” he said.
His had little margin for error until late. Wilmer Flores gave deGrom a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when he homered off Giants starter Johnny Cueto.
In the seventh, deGrom surrendered a tying home run to Brandon Belt. But in the next inning, the Mets’ bats spared deGrom’s sterling performance from ending in a no-decision.
Curtis Granderson reached on a leadoff triple and scored on a single by Bruce. Flores added more wiggle room with a run-scoring double, and pinch-hitter Michael Conforto padded the lead an inning later, driving in Jose Reyes and then scoring on a wild pitch.
Mets closer Addison Reed surrendered a run in the ninth, but the lead withstood that brief stumble.
“Once he got over the blip he had, I think he’s going to continue on and he’s going to have a real big year,” Mets Manager Terry Collins said about deGrom. “We are going to take care of him. We don’t need anybody else going down.”
The injury to Zack Wheeler means Rafael Montero will start Sunday for the Mets, Terry Collins said. Wheeler landed on the D.L. on Wednesday with right biceps tendinitis. After Monday’s day off, the Mets will return to a five-man rotation, Collins said.