The New York Mets aren't denying reality: They're not in control of their fate in the National League wild-card race. On Saturday night, the Mets will hope their best pitcher can nudge them a little closer to taking the steering wheel.
The right-handed DeGrom (9-8, 2.70 ERA) will oppose Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-5, 2.45 ERA) in what might be a battle of the two front-runners for this year's Cy Young.
The loss for the Mets (76-71), coupled with the Cubs' 17-8 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, left New York three games behind Chicago in the race for the second wild card. Both teams have 15 games remaining.
"It's the elephant in the room," Mets left fielder J.D. Davis said. "We all keep track of the opposing teams and who's in the hunt and who's not. Can't say that we aren't, we'd be lying to you guys.
"But the best thing we can do is just take care of ourselves. You can't sit there and worry about the Cubs, worry about Milwaukee. If we're not winning games, then it's pointless."
On paper, nobody should give the Mets a better chance to win than deGrom, who has surged into the Cy Young race by posting a 2.20 ERA in his past 20 starts. But in continuing with the hard-luck theme of his career, New York is just 8-12 in those appearances.
Still, even if the Mets fail to provide much support for deGrom, the NL West champion Dodgers (96-53) know he'll present quite a challenge.
"As long as we win, I don't really care," Kershaw said Friday night. "I'd much rather face somebody that's not good, you know?"
DeGrom continued gaining ground on Ryu in the Cy Young race in his most recent start Monday, when he earned the win after allowing one run over seven innings as the Mets beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1.
Ryu hasn't started since Sept. 4, when he didn't factor into the decision after giving up three runs over 4 1/3 innings in the Dodgers' 7-3 win over the Colorado Rockies. It was the fourth straight subpar start for Ryu, who is 0-3 with a 9.95 ERA since Aug. 17.
While Ryu still leads the NL in ERA, deGrom will enter Saturday ranked ahead of Ryu in innings pitched (183-161 2/3) strikeouts (231-142) and opponent's batting average against (.215-.241).
DeGrom is 0-4 with a 3.23 ERA in nine career regular-season starts against the Dodgers. Ryu is 4-1 with a 1.38 ERA in seven career starts against the Mets.
--Field Level Media