Yesterday Jacob deGrom followed up the best start of his career with one of his worst, a forgettable outing against the pesky Marlins in which he gave up 10 hits and five runs in only 3.2 innings. deGrom’s performance has caused some alarm among Mets fans because his fastball velocity dropped to 91-92 MPH in the fourth inning.
The 28-year-old right-hander has downplayed the concerns about his velocity, citing his command as the primary culprit for yesterday’s clunker. Per Maria Guardado of NJ.com, deGrom said that, “everything I threw seemed to go down the middle.” He felt gassed in the fourth inning because “it doesn’t help when you throw 30 pitches an inning.” Terry Collins agreed with deGrom, saying “he’s probably tired. Those were stressful innings from the start to when he came out of the game.”
In looking at deGrom’s pitch counts per inning, his and Collins’s arguments hold up. deGrom never had a comfortable inning on Saturday. His raw pitch counts per inning were 22, 28, 20, and 24. This stands in stark contrast to his complete game shutout against the Phillies, where deGrom never threw more than 17 pitches in an inning, and had three innings with 10 or fewer pitches.
A related area of concern is deGrom’s recent lack of confidence in his changeup. He only threw one against the Marlins on Saturday, used to incite a swing-and-miss from Chris Johnson. deGrom’s changeup has seen less use in 2016 compared to 2014-15. Per Fangraphs, deGrom threw 12.1% changeups in his first two years in the majors, but in 2016 changeup usage has dropped to 8.4%. Going forward, deGrom may need to throw more changeups to keep hitters from squaring up on his fastball.