Jacob deGrom is good. Did I say that before, because it's true. But in order to find that out, the Mets needed to slog their way through the weekend to get to his turn in the rotation.
The Mets usually find a good deal of success when the visit Arizona, however this weekend appeared headed down a rather miserable path. Though they won on Thursday night, when Matt Harvey got pissed off and inspired his teammates to fight back, the subsequent starting pitchers failed to provide similar impetus. Jon Niese took the mound on Friday night, and, let's face it, Jon Niese hasn't been inspiring anybody to do anything except track the latest outing by Steven Matz in AAA ball. Niese took the loss, which isn't anything new, in an effort where he allowed 3 runs and 6 hits with 8 strikeouts over 6 innings, and somehow this outing was deemed a success. That's a good indicator of how badly things have been going for Niese lately. All confidence in him has been abandoned, which is kind of sad because we all know he can do so much better.
Niese would have been wise this weekend to take a look in the opposing dugout, because he'd see a left-handed pitcher with a similarly high level of talent, and a very similar lack of mental ability, and perhaps he might learn the cautionary tale. Particularly since that left-handed pitcher used to be his teammate, your friend and mine, Oliver Perez. Amazingly, after all the headache Ollie caused the Mets and the general embarrassment he caused himself, someone was still willing to give him a job because he's left-handed and has some life in his arm, even though at this point he's a total caricature on the mound. Nobody could wean him out of the weird, bad habits he'd develop, so at this point it was determined the safest place for him was to come out of the bullpen and face left-handed hitters and hope for the best. And if Jon Niese doesn't get his act together, a similar fate will likely befall him.
Saturday, Bartolo Colon was handed a similar fate, though not because he's an idiot like Niese. Colon just fell victim to some bad luck, in the form of his offense not scoring any runs for him (surprise, surprise), and an errant pitch to Welington Castillo that sunk him. Colon is a caricature in and of himself, probably because he not only continues to succeed on the mound, but also because he continues to surprisingly get hits, as he pinged out his 4th of the season. Nonetheless, this and 9 other Mets hits were not enough to offset his one bad pitch, and thus the Mets lost a San Diego Special, 2-1.
So, it came down to Sunday, with Jacob deGrom on the mound to try to salvage the series and, for that matter, the road trip. deGrom found himself helped out early by Curtis Granderson, not helped out, and then helped out by Eric Campbell, and helped out some more by Wilmer Flores, but mostly he did the job himself. After Campbell's miserable error opened the door for Arizona in the 1st, deGrom settled down and delivered a pitching performance about as crucial as Harvey's was three days prior. His 7 inning effort was enough to put the Mets in position to win the series finale 6-3 and save the team from a completely disastrous 2-5 road trip, instead bringing the team back home with a partially passable 3-4 road trip. Actually, 3-4 isn't terrible considering they were on the West Coast, where they play games in the middle of the night and generally things just tend to go haywire for them. To put things in an even better perspective, the Mets come home from the West Coast in 1st place, if you can believe it, because for as much as the Mets have scuffled, Washington can't get out of their own way either.
For a season where they've had to battle a 2009-level number of injuries to key players, the fact that they've managed to keep themselves near the top of the standings to this point is a bit of a moral victory. But, then, how long can they keep this up...and when the hell will some of these injured players start to come back?