It was a year ago last March when Jacob deGrom made his first two Grapefruit League starts and the alarm bells sounded as the hard-throwing right-hander was sitting at just 90-91 MPH and topping out at 93. Concerns about deGrom’s decreased velocity made blaring headlines all through spring training and into the 2016 season.
Fast-forward a year later and everyone was all smiles and let out a collective sigh of relief when Jacob deGrom took the mound on Saturday and fired a 97 mph first pitch fastball en route to a powerful two inning performance in his Grapefruit League debut.
“When I saw the 97, I looked at Dan and said, wow this is special,” manager Terry Collins told reporters after the game.
Yes it was special, as deGrom retired all six batters he faced on 26 pitches while striking out three. He was dealing at 95-96 mph and hit 97 twice, the second time coming as he struck out phenom Carlos Correa on four pitches.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” deGrom said. “It’s one thing to say you feel good in spring, but then to go out and actually throw, it definitely feels good to get back out there. I feel like the ball is coming out of my hand a lot better. That goes back to mechanics.”
DeGrom had his season cut short last year and underwent surgery to fix the ulnar nerve in his elbow. He hadn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 1 so it was encouraging to see him come out as strong as he did yesterday as the Mets topped the Astros 3-1.
“Last year, it was all I had to get 92 mph,” deGrom continued. “Last year, I flew open all of the time and my arm was really dragging. Now, I’m staying on top of the ball and I get kind of more down-angle to it.”
Whatever the reason may have been for last season’s issues, one thing was certain about yesterday’s outing and that is that Jacob deGrom looked like he was in mid-season form on March 4th. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.