PHILADELPHIA — Ultimately, the four extra days of rest following the postponements in Washington led manager Luis Rojas to pull his ace early Monday.
Jacob deGrom was finished after six shutout innings and 77 pitches against the Phillies.
“If that was [last] Thursday and I’m on normal rest I don’t think there is any chance I’m coming out of that game,” deGrom said after a bullpen implosion buried the Mets in their season opener, a 5-3 loss at Citizens Bank Park.
Rojas cited the fact deGrom hadn’t faced batters in 10 days as the reason for the early hook. Miguel Castro pitched a scoreless seventh before Trevor May and Aaron Loup combined to allow five runs in the eighth.
DeGrom was originally scheduled to pitch Thursday in Washington. The entire three-game series was postponed after several Nationals players tested positive for COVID-19.
“We discussed it before what was the right thing to do,” deGrom said. “Long season and talking to them coming in, it felt like [six innings] was the right decision.”
DeGrom also went 2-for-3 at the plate, driving in the Mets’ second run with a single.
“Jake shouldn’t have to do everything himself,” May said. “That’s not what teams are, and frankly Jake did almost everything today.”
Rojas plans to keep deGrom on normal rest, pitching him Saturday against the Marlins at Citi Field. Marcus Stroman is aligned for the following day, and it’s still to be determined when fifth starter Joey Lucchesi (perhaps pitching behind an opener) will receive his first start. Stroman and David Peterson are scheduled to pitch the next two days in succession, with Taijuan Walker set for Thursday’s home opener. The left-hander Lucchesi is available from the bullpen this week.
Team president Sandy Alderson said the expectation is the three games against the Nationals that were postponed in the opening series will be played as part of doubleheaders, rather than forcing the Mets to forgo off days on the schedule. The Mets return to Washington for a series June 18-20. They are also scheduled to play in Washington on Sept. 3-6.
The Mets fell to 39-21 (.650) in season openers. The winning percentage is still the highest in MLB. Next on the list is the Mariners at 27-18 (.600).
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