Even though Jacob deGrom received his second loss in as many starts on Wednesday night, he’s also recorded two quality starts in that time as well. Sure, he has not been flawless in either start but he has certainly impressed.
DeGrom made his big league debut on May 15th, tossing seven innings and allowing just one earned run on four hits, while walking two and striking out seven. His second start looked a little less sexy in the box score but it was still one of quality nonetheless. In six innings, he allowed three earned runs on four hits, three of which were solo home runs by Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez in that order. He walked three and struck out four against Los Angeles.
In both of his big league starts this season, deGrom has shown the ability to get hitters out with a hard sinking fastball that sits at 92-94 mph throughout his entire outing and occasionally touches 95. He also mixes in an above average slider and changeup that work very well when he’s able to keep his fastball down.
Keeping the fastball down was a problem in his start against the Dodgers as he left one up to Adrian Gonzalez, who sent it well into the Pepsi porch. In all fairness, deGrom actually hit his target on the pitch, but Gonzalez being the exceptional hitter he is, went up and got it with ease. Puig’s home run came on a 91 mph fastball left over the heart of the plate and Ramirez’s on a hanging slider. DeGrom has shown pretty decent control in his brief tenure, just not sparkling command.
As I’m sure a lot of people know already, deGrom was a shortstop at Stetson University before he was converted to a pitcher. He then eventually underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011. Because of this, the 6’4”, 180 pound righthander has not accumulated the amount of experience a pitching prospect typically does before making their big league debut. With more time on the mound, it’s fair to believe he’ll improve his ability to locate pitches.
DeGrom was originally going to be called up to bolster the Mets ineffective bullpen but due to Dillon Gee’s lat strain, he would receive an opportunity to start. So far, he’s taken the opportunity and run with it as he’s shown the ability to make pitches in tough spots and not break down late in games. He’s even impressed more than Rafael Montero, who’s struggled with control in his first two big league starts; a problem he’s never had to face throughout his minor league career.
Montero’s struggles and deGrom’s success beg the question of who remains in the rotation when Dillon Gee returns. The Mets have always seen Montero with the ability to start and have been somewhat divided on deGrom’s future. But it looks as if the latter is making bigger strides out of the gates than expected. Will the Mets send Montero to the bullpen when Dillon Gee returns? Who knows? Should they send him to the bullpen? Maybe. One thing is for sure, though, deGrom certainly appears to have a future as a big league starter early on and to take away his opportunity after he’s seized it would be a questionable move. It’s probably too early to judge and make a determination, but that’s exactly what the Mets will have to do next week. Sometimes small sample sizes are all you get. That’s why GMs get paid the big bucks.