Last year was a career-worst season for Jacob deGrom. In 24 starts, he had a 3.04 ERA, a 3.97 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 3.7 bWAR. He was also the only Mets pitcher to throw a complete game. Awful, right?
deGrom’s 2016 season would be a career year for most other pitchers, and he achieved it while lacking his best stuff for the majority of the season due to discomfort in his right elbow. And in the end, he was limited to 148 innings because he underwent surgery for a nerve issue in that elbow.
Now, though, deGrom is ready to roll in 2017. His surgeon said that everything looked great after the procedure, and there isn’t any reason yet to be concerned that he can’t return to his 2014-15 self. At 28 years old, deGrom is in the midst of his prime. This year, he’s planning on throwing his changeup more often, and the pitch has been a weapon for him in the past.
The main visible problem with deGrom’s 2016 season was his fastball velocity dip. In 2015, he averaged 95.0 mph on the pitch. Last year, he averaged only 93.4 mph. There is reason to believe, however, that the velocity which eluded him last year has returned. In last year’s spring training, deGrom’s fastball sat between 91-93 mph. This spring, deGrom’s fastball has regularly been at 95-97 mph.
We know that spring training statistics don’t really matter, but still, it is encouraging to see deGrom putting up strong numbers in games where he has focused on the development of offspeed pitches. Last year serves as a reminder as to the high floor deGrom possesses. It’s possible that we haven’t even seen his ceiling. With all the hype around Noah Syndergaard coming into this season, look for deGrom to challenge him for the title of Mets ace.