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Mets rotation more than me and Jacob deGrom

Max Scherzer is determined to keep the team’s two highest profile starting pitchers from becoming their own separate unit within the Mets rotation.

So when the conversation turns to finally having himself and Jacob deGrom together, Scherzer is quick to mention Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco and others who have filled in, such as David Peterson and Trevor Williams.

“I feel like we are a unit and really doing well as a unit,” Scherzer said Monday before the Mets opened a three-game series against the Reds at Citi Field. “Going out there and providing quality starts to the team and being consistent.

“We are the backbone of the team. Let the hitters be the muscle and we’re the backbone. You can’t win without backbone.”

The Mets won four of five games against the Braves over the weekend to begin play Monday with a 6 ½-game lead in the NL East thanks largely to the performances of Carrasco, Peterson, Scherzer and deGrom. The Mets’ lone loss in the series came after Walker incurred hip soreness when his cleat got caught in the turf on Friday. Walker, who allowed eight runs, departed in the second inning.

Mets
Max Scherzer
AP

The best was saved for the final two games of the series. Scherzer fired seven shutout innings in the nightcap of a doubleheader Saturday. A day later, deGrom retired the first 17 batters he faced before allowing a two-run homer to Dansby Swanson.

Over 10 ²/₃ innings in his two starts since leaving the injured list, deGrom has struck out 18 batters and walked one, allowing only four hits.

“He is just picking up where he left off and he is ready to mow everybody down,” Scherzer said.

In recent seasons, deGrom has carried the aura of somebody capable of pitching a no-hitter any time he walks to the mound. Though his pitch count still hasn’t elevated to the point a no-hitter is a realistic possibility (deGrom was removed after 76 pitches Sunday), his stuff suggests it might happen sooner rather than later.

“He kind of gives you that vibe,” Scherzer said.

Buck Showalter noted it took more than half the season for the Mets’ rotation to become whole.

Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom
Robert Sabo

“It’s been a long road to get here,” Showalter said. “If you think about some of the unknown with Carlos and Taijuan, really it’s one of the reasons why Billy [Eppler, general manager] and ownership got Chris Bassitt. The evolution of it, you think about Tylor Megill and Peterson, Trevor Williams, the things they have done along the way.

“Whether Jake is concerned or Max is concerned, they pitch two out of five days and sometimes six with the off day. Often it’s the epitome of a team sport, because everybody has got to function.”

The Mets entered Monday with a 3.58 ERA from their starting pitchers, which ranked fifth in MLB. The Mets were also fifth in innings from starting pitchers at 598 ²/₃ .

“We have been going out there and taking care of business and doing our jobs and that is pitching deep into ballgames and pitching efficiently and getting quality starts in,” Scherzer said. “Not only for the offense to be able to win a ballgame, but also protecting our bullpen, pitching deep into games to keep the innings light on our bullpen because you keep those arms fresh and they pitch better.

“We’re a very important unit to this team. We are not the whole team. It takes a total team effort to be able to win: offense, defense, bullpen. They are just important, but when we go out there and do our jobs it helps everybody else out.”

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