In today's MLB, complete games are becoming quite rare, as teams utilize their bullpens more than in any other era of baseball history.
In fact, if a pitcher doesn't have a perfect game or no-hitter going, they're almost always removed before they get to the ninth inning.
That's why New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom felt the need to take matters into his own hands on Monday night against the Chicago Cubs.
After the eighth inning, deGrom made it clear to Mets manager Terry Collins that he expected to go back to the mound for the ninth inning, according to the New York Post:
“I walked in [the dugout after the eighth inning] and I said I want to finish the game,” deGrom said. “That’s when I knew I was going back out.”
He did indeed return to the mound, finishing off the complete game, which the Mets won 6-1. He allowed only a seventh-inning solo home run to Cubs shortstop Addison Russell while striking out six Chicago batters and walking four others.
Collins was impressed with deGrom's effort, saying the right-handed hurler was inspired by watching the success of a pair of other starters in recent games:
“He mixed his pitches tonight, and that’s the guy we know that’s in there,” Collins said. “I’m not saying it happened, but he sat and watched the last two nights, watched [Seth Lugo and Steven Matz] use their off-speed stuff, throw strikes, move the ball around. He might’ve said, ‘I could do that too’, and he did it.”
The Mets have been hot lately, winning their last four games to improve to 29-33 on the season. Though they are below .500, they're still in second place in the National League East division, but trail the first-place Washington Nationals by 8.5 games.
During his complete-game gem, deGrom threw 116 pitches, but showed no signs of slowing down, even in the final inning. While facing Willson Contreras to end the game, deGrom's final pitch was a 97 mph fastball.
For a team dealing with an injury to ace Noah Syndergaard and ineffectiveness from Matt Harvey, having deGrom take over as the temporary ace has been exactly what the Mets need.
In 13 games this season, deGrom has a record of 5-3. He has an ERA of 4.33 with 100 strikeouts in 81 innings of work. If the Mets are going to continue making up ground on the Nationals and compete for a playoff spot, deGrom will need to keep having performances like Monday night's.
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