When Jacob deGrom was called up by the Mets from Triple-A Las Vegas in mid-May, the plan was for him to pitch out of the bullpen, where he had never before pitched. When that changed and deGrom was instead inserted into the starting rotation, most of the hype continued to revolve around fellow rookie starter Rafael Montero, who has since been demoted.
Jul 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches during the first inning Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Basically, deGrom’s arrival in the majors was similar to his time in the minors – at least when you consider how he was viewed by most fans and scouts.
Jacob deGrom was a legitimate prospect, but one many thought would eventually wind up in the bullpen, where it was believed his fastball would tick upward and be more effective.
When you look at how deGrom was viewed in the minors and juxtapose that with how his major league career has started, it’s a bit reminiscent of how Matt Harvey burst on the scene in 2012. Disclaimer: Jacob deGrom is not Matt Harvey, and this is not a straight comparison.
Like Harvey, deGrom has seemingly surprised most scouts who watched him in the minors, flashing better stuff in the big leagues than he ever did during his minor league career.
With Thursday being Keith Law’s weekly chat on ESPN, I asked the former scout what he thought of deGrom. More specifically, I asked him if deGrom may have saved his best for when he reached the majors. Law’s reply:
"Fairly late/recent convert to the mound too, so I wouldn’t be shocked if this was the real him – a new gear that no one saw coming. Always liked him but can’t say I thought he’d be close to this."
Law’s first point is one that has been discussed before: deGrom is a converted shortstop, so the fact that he’s coming into his own as a starter at the relatively advanced age of 26 shouldn’t be surprising.
As he stated, Law was always a fan of deGrom, but what deGrom has done so far in the majors (flashing “a new gear”) is something Law and most others didn’t see coming.
Going further, Law said he wouldn’t be surprised if what deGrom has shown thus far in his young career is the “real” deGrom.
In 66.2 innings pitched spanning 11 games started, deGrom has posted a 3.38 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He’s struck out 64, allowed an opposing batting average of .259, and has averaged 93.4 MPH with his fastball.
Recently, deGrom’s fastball has reached another gear, often sitting between 95 and 96 MPH. His fastball has been a great weapon, especially with deGrom comfortable using his slider, changeup, and even his curveball to keep hitters off balance.
Aside from his stuff, deGrom has had a tremendous demeanor on the mound, and has kept his composure during starts when things aren’t clicking for him.
If what we’ve seen so far is the real Jacob deGrom, the Mets’ embarrassment of starting pitching will have gotten that much better, with the emergence of another young arm they can slot near the top of their rotation.