Why it just got harder for Jacob deGrom to skip All-Star Game

Terrible looks abounded at Citi Field on Tuesday night, the Mets keeping their fans around through a rain delay for nearly three hours, rookie owner Steve Cohen tweeting weather updates, only for the...

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Terrible looks abounded at Citi Field on Tuesday night, the Mets keeping their fans around through a rain delay for nearly three hours, rookie owner Steve Cohen tweeting weather updates, only for the showers to persist and lead to a postponement of their game against the Brewers.

Which leads to another conundrum for the Mets, one that forebodes another potentially terrible look for their ace:

How can Jacob deGrom get out of the All-Star Game now?

The planet’s best pitcher, scheduled to start Tuesday, will instead take the mound for Wednesday’s Game 1 and … then what? Surely he won’t start Sunday’s first-half finale on short rest, and that in turn robs him of the excuse he possessed to not pitch for the National League — for whom he is the slam-dunk candidate to start — in the July 13 Midsummer Classic at every pitcher’s least-favorite site, Coors Field.

Jacob deGrom
UPI

I’m very sympathetic to deGrom, who told The Post’s Mike Puma last week that the Denver location, its high altitude murder on hurlers, factored into his desire to skip baseball’s jewel event — which was the plan with his pitching Tuesday and then Sunday, the latter of which officially would have excused him from the commitment. You certainly don’t want people participating against their will, and you sure as heck don’t want people sustaining injuries. Yet with the rain spoiling those plans, deGrom’s brilliant season, exemplified by his insane 0.95 ERA, only intensifies the pressure on him to participate. You know that Major League Baseball would love to market a matchup of deGrom against Angels stud two-way player Shohei Ohtani.

At the least, the situation will turn up the heat on deGrom — who went on the injured list once this first half and left two other starts early with ailments, providing him some cover — to at least fly to Denver to join his NL teammates for the pregame introduction.

On Tuesday afternoon, when the forecast appeared more favorable, I asked Mets manager Luis Rojas what he thought about deGrom appearing at Coors as an ineligible player.

“That’s his decision if he pitches Sunday like the plan is,” Rojas said. “I know it’s tough for the event not to have the presence of Jake there. It’s unfortunate, all the fans and baseball itself, like everything, just to see Jake at the event, the uniform, everything. But that’s more for Jake to [decide]. If he’s not going to participate, knowing Jake’s competitiveness, it’s probably going to be tough to be in uniform and not participate. So I don’t know. It’s a tough one for the All-Star Game without him there present.”

Look, if the right-hander was wired differently, then he’d probably want to go to Denver, be it for the player-party scene or to meet with sponsors and boost his brand or just to revel in the festivities of the Home Run Derby and the game itself. However, you know darn well that’s not how deGrom rolls, and you can easily draw a line from his low-key approach to his sky-high success, which helps the sport far more than his blowing off the Denver trip hurts it.

Again, though, the calculation of that blowoff changes with deGrom not starting on Sunday. Rojas allowed for the possibility of deGrom pitching out of the bullpen Sunday against the Pirates, on what would normally be a throw day for him, although that wouldn’t make much sense. Then again, it didn’t make much sense for Cohen to tweet, “Hang in there everybody, we are going to play tonight” before 9 p.m. — before the weather defied the forecast — nor for an apologetic Cohen to tweet of the game being “canceled” (pet peeve — the proper term is “postponed”) 13 minutes before the team formally notified its fans via the Citi scoreboard. To the Mets’ credit, they announced late Tuesday night that ticket holders to this game would be rewarded with credits for a makeup plus a second game.

Anyway, deGrom surely will offer his thoughts Wednesday after he pitches. He’s in a tough spot. While he has every right to prioritize his health and his team’s interests over the sport’s promotion, that won’t make this call any more pleasant.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Ken Davidoff

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