Emmanuel Pepis, Staff Writer
This is a tough question to answer on a yearly basis because it can and has varied over the past several seasons. That speaks to the incredible depth in this staff. However, the pitcher I’m most excited to watch this season is Jacob deGrom.
Last season, deGrom was pitching without his best fastball. His velocity was down and it forced him to dig a little deeper. Still, he managed to put up solid numbers (8.7 strikeouts and 2.2 walks per nine innings). His ERA was at 2.29 before his final three appearances. DeGrom allowed 16 earned runs over that span and was shut down shortly after that point.
Fast forward to this spring and deGrom’s fastball isn’t only back, it has even more life. In his Spring Training debut, deGrom consistently sat 96-97 on his fastball. He has also more recently lit up the radar gun at 100.
Sure, velocity is great, but what helps make deGrom is his command of the strike zone. Last season taught him how to pitch without a full deck. Now that his fastball is back, it’s going to be exciting to see him couple that with his command.
In 2015, deGrom was an All-Star and he finished seventh in the Cy Young race. It wouldn’t be outlandish to predict he’ll at least regain All-Star status. And perhaps he’ll be an outside contender for the NL Cy Young this season. Of course, one of the guys he may have to battle for that honor is on the same team in Noah Syndergaard.
Beyond his ability, I have always admired deGrom’s poise on the mound. Pair that with his velocity returning and the sky could be the limit.