Nobody can say for certain what big games Jacob deGrom might have later in his career that could carve legacy, but there’s no doubt the Mets’ run during these playoffs is contingent on him showing up large in Game 2 tonight against Johnny Cueto.
No deGrom; no World Series title.
The Mets’ best pitcher this season must fight through fatigue for his team to take this Series back to Citi Field tied at a game apiece. The must regain the command he lost in his last two starts against the Dodgers and Cubs.
Those teams couldn’t come up with the big hit to put deGrom and the Mets away. The Mets aren’t even here without his second start against the Dodgers in which he stranded five runners in scoring position.
Such grit rarely works against the Royals, who came from behind twice last night to beat the Mets.
“One of the things we know about them is they’re never down and out. We’ve got to put them away,” manager Terry Collins said after Kansas City survived 14 innings last night, and to do so needed to overcome Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning.
That begins with scoring early and often against Cueto, and deGrom becoming overpowering again.
“They’re going to battle you,’’ deGrom said. “They’re not going to strike out a lot and they’re going to put the ball in play. I think my job is to keep the ball down.
“I always say I try to go out there and get early contact, and strikeouts just seem to happen. That’s going to be my same game plan going into this.’’
Against the fastball-hitting Cubs, deGrom said he had to temper his approach with more off-speed pitches and relied on his change-up. Much has been made of Kansas City’s ability to put fastballs in play, so that might be his formula tonight.
“There’s going to be adjustments to be made like there is in every game,’’ deGrom said. “I think it’s just seeing what’s going on out there.’’
And, recognizing it quickly because if he doesn’t the game can get away very fast.