The Mets must struggle to imagine how they could ever get a fair return in a trade for Jacob deGrom. What could be more valuable to them than the ace taking the mound every five games?
Even without his sharpest stuff, deGrom — who tied a season-low with three strikeouts — remained dominant Wednesday night at Citi Field, allowing one run, while picking up his seventh straight win in the Mets’ 7-3 victory over the Cardinals.
“I guess it’s a good thing if other teams want you, but I got a job to do here and that’s my main focus right now,” deGrom said about recent trade rumors. “I haven’t really thought that much into it.”
Since being knocked around in back-to-back starts (May 31 and June 6) for a combined 15 runs, deGrom (11-3) has recorded a 1.51 ERA over his past seven starts, and stopped a Mets losing streak in three straight outings. The right-hander is tied with Dwight Gooden for the most starts (43) by a pitcher allowing one run or fewer in his first 95 career starts.
DeGrom wasn’t his usual overwhelming self — he needed 13 pitches to retire leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter in the first inning — but he received three runs of support in the bottom of the first, and allowed the offense to quickly resume its assault in the second after needing just 10 pitches to escape the top of the frame.
Even without every pitch working, deGrom knew he would win most at-bats.
“I noticed early on I didn’t have my best stuff, so I knew it was gonna kind of be a battle,” deGrom said. “I kind of took the approach of, ‘Here it is, see if you can hit it.’ ”
The Cardinals didn’t record a hit until the third inning. DeGrom, who now has a 2.03 ERA at Citi Field in his career, didn’t surrender a run through the first six innings.
The 29-year-old was pulled with two outs in the seventh inning after throwing 110 pitches (76 of them strikes), giving up a two-out RBI double to Luke Voit on the final pitch. DeGrom lasted 6 ²/₃ innings — his first start since June 4 in which he threw fewer than seven innings — and allowed seven hits and one walk.
“He is who he is, and you look up and he’s still in there late in the game,” manager Terry Collins said. “He puts thought into what’s going on on the mound. He competed as he always does, and started to make pitches. … When he’s out there, it’s all business. He doesn’t want to make any mistakes. He settled down and he pitched a good game.
“We knew when he first got here he’s gonna be a good pitcher for a long time.”