Neither Chase Whitley nor Jacob deGrom were high on the prospect radar for their respective teams coming into the season. Both the New York Yankees and New York Mets had, and still have, bigger name pitchers in the minors. However, both teams have been desperate to fill out their rotations due to injuries suffered to their number one starters, and higher rated prospects such as Manny Banuelos Noah Syndergaard have been deemed not ready to promote, for various reasons. With each making their major league debut, Whitley and deGrom had a brilliant duel on the mound at Citi Field, with the Yankees coming out on top in a 1-0 game.
Whitley has been excellent for the Yankees Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but as shown time after time, that often means little in the majors. Before the game, Joe Girardi talked about Whitley’s need to have a good first inning to settle himself in. The 25-year-old right-hander did just that, setting the first three down in order, including a strikeout of David Wright. He would last 4.1 innings, allowing just a pair of hits with four strikeouts. Whitley was pulled after a pair of walks got him in trouble in the fifth inning, but Dellin Betances closed out the jam. Betances would go on to strikeout six consecutive Mets in the sixth and seventh innings.
For the Mets, deGrom was probably even more impressive than Whitley. The lanky lefty from Florida pitched himself through seven innings on only 91 pitches, only allowing one run and four hits. He struck out six Yankees, but took the loss as the Mets’ offense was shutout for the second straight day. DeGrom was also able to break the Mets’ pitchers season long hitless streak. As a former two-way college player, at shortstop no less, deGrom is certainly athletic and a capable bat handler. He hit a single in his first major league at bat, and after sacrifice bunting in his only other plate appearance deGrom now holds a 1.000 batting average.
Each of the young pitchers has likely earned themselves another start. With the Yankees’ pitching staff in absolute shambles at the moment, Whitley will have a real chance to prove himself. Even with the eventual return of CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda, the Yankees’ fifth starter spot is an open competition. For the Mets, deGrom is likely guaranteed at least two more starts while Dillon Gee lets his strained right lat heal on the 15-day disabled list. There is a possibility deGrom could stick around longer if he performs well enough to force Jenrry Mejia out of the rotation. That could actually be a benefit to the Mets in two ways. Mejia has been the weakest member of their rotation so far, but could perhaps improve his own numbers as well as the Mets’ bullpen by pitching in relief.
The game marked the close of the this year’s installment of the Subway Series. The Mets and Yankees will not meet again this season, barring a World Series appearance by each. The Mets now head to Washington for their first meeting with the Nationals since being swept in their season opening set. The Yankees continue interleague play with a home series against Pittsburgh.
Commentary by Brian Moore
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering New York Baseball