Jacob deGrom’s movements between pitches Friday might be scrutinized more than usual, after a video went viral in recent days of the Mets right-hander going to his belt before a pitch and touching his glove.
The controversy comes amid MLB’s attempt to crack down on pitchers applying foreign substances to the ball. DeGrom, who has pitched to a 0.62 ERA this season, is scheduled to face the Padres at Citi Field, where the Mets will begin a seven-game homestand.
DeGrom’s teammates quickly rushed to his defense on Twitter following the posting of the video, which insinuated he was applying a substance to the baseball.
“I promise you he doesn’t use anything,” catcher Tomas Nido tweeted. “If he did they would be lucky to even foul tip the ball.”
Added Kevin Pillar: “I would bet my paycheck on it that he doesn’t use anything.”
DeGrom has held opponents to one earned run or fewer in each of his nine starts in 2021 — a major league record to begin the season. He fired seven shutout innings with 11 strikeouts in his last start, at San Diego on Saturday.
Carlos Carrasco — though feeling strong physically — has not progressed as quickly as the Mets had hoped, leading to the latest slowdown in his rehab following an evaluation of MRI exam results by Dr. David Altchek on his right hamstring. Carrasco has been on the injured list since spring training, when he tore his right hamstring.
Team president Sandy Alderson said it’s possible the right-hander won’t be ready until late-July.
“I’m hopeful that somewhere between early and late July,” Alderson said on MLB Network. “Probably July is realistic at this point, but things have changed. What was realistic in April has not eventuated, so it’s hard to tell.”
Alderson added that he doesn’t expect Noah Syndergaard, who has been shut down from throwing in his Tommy John surgery rehab, to return before Sept. 1.
“What I’m hoping is that we get Carrasco back and then Syndergaard, but that will also be a big lift for our club at about the right time,” Alderson said.
Friday begins a wild stretch for the Mets of 33 games scheduled in 31 days, leading into the All-Star break. Included are three doubleheaders (against the Nationals, Braves and Phillies) and a makeup game in Washington on June 28. The Mets’ lone remaining scheduled off-day before the All-Star break is June 24, in the middle of a homestand against the Braves and Phillies.
Pillar, who blasted two homers against the Orioles on Wednesday, said his time on the injured list after he was hit in the face by a pitch and sustained a broken nose last month was beneficial in that it allowed him to refocus on his swing.
“A little bit of time off allowed me, I don’t want to say to recreate myself, but to find a little comfort in the box,” Pillar said.