Mets should push back Jacob deGrom start vs. Rockies

All week long as we’ve sloshed our way through puddles in and around New York City, as we’ve driven across slick roads and made mad dashes from house to car and from car to office without getting soaked, there has been this consolation, something you hear a lot this time of year, part of the April negotiation between winter and spring:

“Well, it could be worse … it could be snowing.”

Yeah. About that …

No, we’re not getting any awful surprises around here. But the Mets are about to add to their buffet table of springtime aggravations. After getting rained out at Citi Field on Thursday afternoon — for the record, that makes it an even half-dozen games that have been banged, over the first 13 scheduled — the Mets boarded their team charter, bound for their next series against the Antarctica Rockies.

Maybe you’ve spared yourself a look at the forecast for Denver the next few days, so allow me to do that on your behalf:

Friday: High of 39 degrees, low of 29, 80 percent chance of snow.

Saturday: High of 45, low of 26 (!), 24 percent chance of a wintry mix.

Sunday: High of 55, low of 33, sunny, 0 percent chance of snow.

(If they play a tripleheader Sunday, will it be three five-inning games? Oh, like Rob Manfred hasn’t already thought of that with his signature sinister cackle …)

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom #48, in the dugout
Jacob deGrom may be best suited watching the first two games in Denver.
Charles Wenzelberg/Gist Vile

“We expect to play Friday night,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said, presumably in consult with the Rockies’ team of “exclusive forecast experts.” Maybe that means the snow is expected to stop in time for first pitch, when the temperature at Coors Igloo will be between 28 and 37 degrees. Maybe they will play, maybe they won’t. Here is a helpful suggestion for Rojas:

By the time the plane reaches cruising altitude, but no later than when it passes over Chicago, alter your present pitching plan. A lot. Jacob deGrom was supposed to pitch Thursday but — credit to the Mets — learning from Sunday’s ill-fated dance with the rain, they never even let deGrom begin his routine once the forecast evolved from ominous to grim. So he’s scheduled to start Friday now.

Don’t do it, even if you play.

And don’t start him Saturday, either.

Keep the ball away from deGrom until Sunday. For his own good. And for the team’s. Look, the Mets were already prepared to play two of their games in Denver with uncertainty. One was already labeled “TBA.” One was going to be the starting debut of Joey Lucchesi, who may or may not require an opener. Two-thirds of the series was going to be an all-hands-on-deck free-for-all anyway. Keep it that way.

Save deGrom for Sunday, when every weather app has a glorious and full sun visible, with relatively humane temperatures.

We can save the Bubble-Wrap jokes for another day, OK? The Mets have already proven — stubbornly and defiantly sometimes, sometimes to the frustration of old-school fans — that they will proceed cautiously with their most valuable asset. Good. That’s smart business. It’s sound strategy. For both them and the player.

CIRCA 1983: Tim Leary of the New York Mets pitches
Tim Leary’s debut should provide a cautionary tale for the Mets.
Getty Images

It also is part of the organizational scar tissue. Any Mets fan of a certain age — say, 48 or older — retains a horrifying memory of April 12, 1981, a Sunday in Chicago that reached a high of 38 degrees with winds whipping in from Lake Michigan. Tim Leary made his debut that day for the Mets. He was Dwight Gooden when Gooden was still a junior at Hillsborough High, a flame-throwing 22-year-old the Mets had deemed The Future.

Leary struck out the first two batters he faced that day at Wrigley Field, Ivan DeJesus and Joe Strain. He retired six of the seven men to face him, allowing only a walk to Ken Reitz. He fanned Bull Durham. He was electric. He walked off the mound after the second inning and sought out Joe Torre, the Mets’ manager.

“My arm hurts,” Leary said.

Then he disappeared for two years.

It is something Mets fans of a certain vintage remember every April, not just on anniversaries (and No. 40 just happened to be Monday), an extra chill that always accompanies a cold April day when baseball players try to forget how frosty it is.

There’s no forgetting in Denver this weekend. No way to avoid that icy mercury reading even if they are lucky enough to avoid a blizzard (no sure thing). Mix and match. All hands on-deck. April is no time for heroes. And the North Pole — aka Denver, Colo. — is no place for them.

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