Marcus Stroman, Mets aim to take series vs. Nationals

Sports

As two of the most competitive and versatile pitchers in baseball, New York Mets right-handers Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman surely have enjoyed trying to top one another throughout the first three weeks of the season.

However, deGrom’s performance Friday night might have set an unreachable bar for Stroman, who will look to help the host Mets lock up a series win over the Washington Nationals on Saturday afternoon in the middle game of a three-game series.

Stroman (3-0, 0.90 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Nationals right-hander Joe Ross (1-1, 5.87 ERA).

deGrom continued his historic surge Friday, when he struck out a career-high 15, twirled a two-hit shutout and added two hits at the plate, including the fifth-inning RBI double that produced the Mets’ first run in a 6-0 win.

The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Nationals, who could do little but acknowledge deGrom’s all-around effort Friday.

“I’ve been in this league a long time,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who reached the bigs as a player in 1986. “That’s one of the better ones I’ve seen.”

The shutout lowered deGrom’s ERA to 0.31 while the 15 strikeouts increased his total this season to 50, the most a pitcher has ever collected in his first four starts. deGrom, who tied a career-high with 14 strikeouts in his previous two starts, is the third pitcher in history to strike out at least 14 in three straight outings.

And for good measure, the 2-for-4 night at the plate extended deGrom’s hitting streak to five games dating back to 2019, although it did lower his batting average from .571 to .545.

“Jake is unbelievable; he truly is — he has to be from a different planet, he just does things that seem out of this world,” said Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo, who brought deGrom home with a two-run single in the fifth and a two-run homer in the eighth. “He’s one of the best that I’ve ever seen, and it is a true joy to get to watch him and be a part of this game.”

Stroman has done plenty to help himself in all facets of the game in his first three starts.

In addition to pitching at least six innings in all three of his official starts — his scheduled outing against the Miami Marlins was suspended due to rain with one out in the top of the first April 11 — Stroman hit a warning track flyout against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 6, drew a walk against the Phillies seven days later and made the highlights in his most recent outing Sunday, when, in one motion, he stabbed a comebacker from the Colorado Rockies’ Josh Fuentes, stepped backward and tossed a five-bouncer to Pete Alonso for the out.

Stroman earned the win against the Rockies by allowing one run over eight innings. He didn’t factor into the decision in his lone outing against the Nationals on Aug. 9, 2019, when Stroman gave up four runs over six innings in the Mets’ 7-6 win.

Ross took the loss in his most recent start, when he allowed a career-high 10 runs over 4 1/3 innings Monday as the Nationals fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, 12-5.

“I just wasn’t really executing my pitches,” he said. “Leaving the fastball up and I was getting hit hard, making mistakes. Just got to be better with location and work ahead and stay ahead.”

Ross is 2-4 with a 5.73 ERA in 12 career games (eight starts) against the Mets.

–Field Level Media

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