Ed Coleman’s Notes From Spring: DeGrom Hones His Craft

Ed Coleman
February 26, 2020 - 6:44 pm
Jacob deGrom

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (WCBS 880) — Whether it be February in Florida or post-season baseball in October, Jacob deGrom pays strict attention to his craft.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner threw 31 pitches to teammates during a simulated game on Tuesday in Port St. Lucie, slicing, dicing and eventually dispatching most of them while looking to be in mid-season form.

"I felt good with the fastball,” deGrom said. “I think it's the same as every camp, just got to get used to throwing the off speed stuff.  The hits I gave up today were two changeups and a slider up in the zone. I felt I could locate the fastball fine, it's just getting back to throwing the off speed where I want to.”

DeGrom always has good fastball command that comes early because of all the throwing he does in the off-season. It takes him awhile to get his off speed pitches in line, especially the changeup which is usually the last pitch to come around. 

DeGrom is trying to resurrect a backdoor slider to lefties, and the early returns are favorable. He used it a lot in 2018, his first Cy Young season, but not as much in 2019 because he continually found that it was drifting and finding the middle of the plate too often. 

His matchup with Brandon Nimmo was very instructive. Nimmo is a very patient hitter who seldom swings at pitches outside the zone. DeGrom started him with a curve for a strike, then fired a fastball for strike two. He then came with the backdoor slider, which looks like a fastball but then cuts over the edge of the plate for a strike.  Nimmo was left shaking his head at deGrom's precision. Good pitch. Mission accomplished.

Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner has cut back the workload of some of the starters to try and keep them fresh for the long haul. But deGrom is a creature of habit who likes to throw 2 bullpens instead of the customary one between starts, and he will continue to do that during the season. 

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, especially if you have the hardware to back it up.

DeGgrom is optimistic about this team and having fun.

“They're great guys to be around,” he said. “This has been a fun spring, everybody's having fun, getting along great, and watching these guys has been impressive.”