The New York Yankees and New York Mets rivalry never takes a break. Even when one team is seemingly rolling to the postseason and the other is potentially ticketed for a top five draft pick, it simply never stops going.
That continues to be true in 2018.
This season’s Subway Series will conclude with a single makeup game on Monday at Yankee Stadium, and to no one’s surprise the Mets are going slightly out of their way to make the game more difficult for the Yankees. Before Wednesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, the Mets announced that ace Jacob deGrom will be moved up to start Monday’s game in place of Jason Vargas.
Mets will take advantage of the off-day and pitch deGrom on regular rest against the Yankees Monday.
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 8, 2018
Why is Jacob deGrom starting bad news for Yankees?
Let us count the ways.
For starters, deGrom is putting together a season worthy of Cy Young Award consideration. With six scoreless innings against Cincinnati on Wednesday, deGrom lowered his MLB-best ERA to 1.77. He struck out 10, pushing his season average close to 11 strikeouts per nine innings.
Even though the Mets have done next to nothing to support deGrom, he’s remained focused and therefore dominant. Wednesday’s win was deGrom’s first since June 18. It’s only his sixth win all season despite the pure brilliance that’s been on display for nearly each of his now 23 starts.
DeGrom is a difficult matchup for any team, Yankees included. When the teams met earlier this season at Citi Field, deGrom limited New York to two runs on four hits while striking out eight over eight innings. Of course, the Yankees would still win the game 4-1, but deGrom kept them in check offensively.
It’s particularly scary matchup for the Yankees because they don’t have any margin for error at this point in the AL East standings. The Red Sox have opened up a nine-game lead entering play on Wednesday. That means if Boston plays just .500 ball down the stretch, the Yankees would have to go 34-16 to force a tie. At 80-34, chances are Boston will continue playing well above .500.
The Yankees would love to avoid playing in another Wild Card Game, which places a premium on every game from here on out. Facing deGrom, a possible Cy Young winner, instead of Vargas, whose ERA sits at 8.75 through 47 1/3 innings, dents their odds in this game significantly.
Why are the Mets moving Jacob deGrom up?
To be clear, the Mets aren’t making a drastic stretch for deGrom to start Monday. He won’t be pitching on short rest just for this game. He’ll be on his regular four days rest. Because of an off day on Thursday, the rotation lined up for Vargas’ turn to come on Monday, which would have given deGrom an extra day of rest this time through the rotation.
Considering the Mets are well out of contention this season, there’s no real urgency for them to bump deGrom’s turn up one day either. No one would have noticed or cared had they kept the rotation in order for Monday. It seems like deGrom, the Mets, or both, wanted this matchup to happen. Perhaps to create another hurdle for the Yankees, or perhaps even to further strengthen deGrom’s Cy Young case.
Whatever the case, we’re looking forward to deGrom’s presence spicing up a potential drab August game.
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