NEW YORK -- Over the first four years of Jacob deGrom's career, his signature skill has been an ability to dance his way out of the most trying scenarios. Few have been better when not at their sharpest.
But even deGrom could not rebound Wednesday in what was, statistically, one of the worst starts of his career. His command "all over the place," in manager Terry Collins' words, deGrom gave up seven runs in four innings, walking five in a 7-1 loss to the Brewers.
"I was just bad tonight -- honestly, terrible," deGrom said. "I couldn't throw the ball where I wanted to. … Tonight's on me. I wasn't able to keep our team in a position to win. It was just an all-around bad job on my part."
It did not take long for everything to go awry for deGrom, who walked the first batter he faced and allowed a two-run homer to the second, Eric Thames. Two more extra-base hits came in the form of a Travis Shaw double and a Keon Broxton solo homer before deGrom made it through the Brewers' lineup once.
Though deGrom continued to rack up strikeouts -- six in four innings to claim the National League lead with 92 -- he also accumulated five walks. Since snapping a streak of 77 starts without a five-walk game earlier this season, deGrom has issued at least five free passes three times in eight starts.
"We tried hard to throw strikes," catcher Rene Rivera said. "But these things happen. We're human."
Theories for deGrom's sudden ineffectiveness were as scattered as his pitches. deGrom bemoaned the fact that he could not throw his slider or breaking ball for strikes, allowing hitters to sit on a fastball that leaked over the middle. Statcast™ data showed that deGrom's fastball not only sat in the middle of the strike zone, but largely resided in the upper half as well, allowing the Brewers to square up five of their eight hits for extra bases. Three of the hits deGrom allowed, including both home runs, carried exit velocities over 104 mph.
deGrom, who has tinkered with his mechanics for much of this season, refused to point to any delivery flaw for his struggles. He also rejected Collins' hypothesis that the season-high 118 pitches he threw five days earlier played a role in his demise -- the manager going as far as to say "there's a chance he just didn't have enough rest."
"I felt fine," deGrom countered. "I felt fine all week, these past four days getting ready for this start. I was just bad. I don't know what else to say."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.