PORT ST. LUCIE – There are times we all forget how great Jacob deGrom is and what a competitor he is every time he takes the mound. I totally understand it because Noah Syndergaard has electric stuff as well coupled with a personality that has New York written all over it. And Matt Harvey is such a big part of the 2017 Met hopes because he has shown when healthy, he is a downright dominating hurler.
I certainly believe Matt and Noah deserve the attention but sometimes we do forget how deGrom put the Mets in the 2015 NLCS by winning games 1 and 5 in the NLDS facing Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. More than that, he was dominating in that Game 1 start but had to battle through a night without his best stuff with the season on the line in Game 5. Do not be fooled by his understated off the field personality—this guy is ultra -competitive on the mound who fully understands that the radar gun is nice but this game is about late movement on pitches.
I asked deGrom about that here in Port St Lucie and he said, “I really felt all of my pitches seem to be working well in that area and not just the fastballs.” Whenever I hear baseball experts put all of their faith in the “Jugs Gun” I laugh because a straight 98 MPH fastball without movement is like a hanging curve ball. In fact it could be worse because the speed of that “straight pitch” could actually be easier to hit than any pitch at the major league level.
In my early reporting days, Tom Seaver explained it to me one day—late movement changes eye level and that’s why good sliders and curve balls should get many hitters out. The fastball that rises gets hitters out too but The Franchise explained to me that’s because the rising movement comes when the ball is right on top of the hitter. Makes perfect sense to me especially coming from No. 41.
My point here is Jacob deGrom understands that and he has prepared all month in fine tuning the late movement of his pitches. He also has the added advantage of a tall frame that can be right on top of the hitter once he delivers his pitches to the plate. Those two skills makes him very difficult to hit and quite frankly, put him in the elite category of starting pitchers in the game. He also studies hitters and understands the high strikeout totals are not always the best road to take. He is a mature talented pitcher that will be a big part of the 2017 Met season. Sometimes we all forget how great he is but I am sure his opponents are well aware of that fact.