Don’t take Jacob deGrom’s word that he feels good after his 2021 season — which could have been a historic one — was derailed due to injuries, just take a look at his teammates.
Mets batters were flabbergasted by the pitching virtuoso and two-time NL Cy Young Award winner on Thursday as deGrom threw a live batting-practice session — the first time he’s faced live hitters since being shut down in July last year due to elbow inflammation.
Pete Alonso couldn’t help but smile and shake his head as he struck out swinging. When he hit a line drive up the middle in another at-bat, he simply said “I touched it.”
Perspective from Pete Alonso on what it's like to face Jacob deGrom in live BP. pic.twitter.com/Ez9qqdZsf2
— SNY (@SNYtv) March 17, 2022
Jeff McNeil exclaimed similar sentiments during one of his strikeouts against the ace.
“Yes! I touched it!” the lefty yelled after fouling off a pitch with a check swing.
Following a deGrom slider that struck out Francisco Lindor, the star shortstop let out an inaudible “woo!” as he walked back to the dugout.
The outing came a few days after throwing a 30-pitch session on Monday off a mound as the 33-year-old builds his way back up toward shouldering the load of being one of the best pitchers in baseball.
From 2018-2021, deGrom has been baseball’s best hurler behind a 1.94 ERA, 205 ERA+, a 0.881 WHIP, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.50. Last season should have been his finest season yet, going 7-2 with a 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts in just 92.0 innings over 15 starts before injuries cut things short.
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He’ll be the least of first-year manager Buck Showalter’s problems.
“Yeah, he’s going to make the club,” Showalter joked. “There were some guys in the back fields who I wanted to see. So I just got to see three or four pitches and I said, ‘how’d it go?’
Showalter has already named deGrom the Opening Day starter and he’ll get his first start of spring training on Tuesday against the Houston Astros. For the Mets’ manager, it’s just semantics at this point as he’s raring for the season to get going.
“Sometimes you want something too much. Wake me up when we get through this part of it,” he said. “We put a sign up today saying ‘this many days til Opening Day.’ just to kind of remind our people not to go too fast but that there is an end-game approaching.”