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Mets ace Jacob deGrom is a role model for all younger pitchers

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets pitches against the Washington Nationals during game 1 of a double header at Nationals Park on September 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets pitches against the Washington Nationals during game 1 of a double header at Nationals Park on September 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
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New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom has now become the guy younger big league pitchers look to emulate.

When Tyler Glasnow was asked in Tampa Bays Rays spring training what MLB pitchers he looked up to, he wasted no time mentioning a name that New York Mets fans know well.

“For me, it’s more about mentality and how guys go after [hitters]. I don’t know how similar I am to deGrom, but I love watching deGrom pitch.”

Glasnow made his first major league start in 2016 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, over two years after deGrom’s 2014 rookie season began. He is in a long line of MLB hurlers today, many of whom are younger than deGrom, who admire the Mets’ star pitcher and have spoken of this to reporters.

“[deGrom] is a power pitcher, he commands the ball really well and commands his other pitches really well,” noted Aaron Nola, the de-facto ace for the Philadelphia Phillies, in a 2018 interview. “I feel like you see a lot of power pitchers usually coming out of the bullpen kind of max effort. It looks like his arm is so fast and long that it doesn’t look like he’s putting in too much effort, the ball just jumps out of his hand and just gets on you from what I hear from hitters.”

Nola made his debut in 2015. He, like Glasnow, is only 27 and could very well have many more fantastic seasons in his future. His comments about deGrom reflect the kind of respect that one might expect from a big league pitcher discussing the best pitcher in baseball, though not necessarily from one speaking about a division rival that beat him out in two straight Cy Young chases.

deGrom’s own teammate, Noah Syndergaard, is among his most vocal supporters in the media and has spoken to his positive influence on many occasions. In that same 2018 article, Syndergaard offered his thoughts on the respected right-hander.

“You can tell by the way he looks at the hitter and when he’s on top of the mound, he’s going to throw each pitch with 110 percent conviction and he’s convinced whatever pitch he’s going to throw, he’s going to get that hitter out,” Syndergaard said. “His demeanor on the mound is very calm, even-keeled. When things don’t go his way he can hunker down and focus more and prevent small, incremental things from happening.”

Syndergaard debuted in May 2015, almost exactly one year after deGrom, but he is four years his junior and presumably has more years of his career left than does deGrom. Though they have been teammates for nearly the entirety of both of their careers, Syndergaard’s public statements always display clear admiration for deGrom.

He was famously vocal in the spring of 2019 when deGrom was in talks for a well-deserved contract extension. Syndergaard did not mince his words when praising his teammate.

“I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth,” he said. “I want to keep him happy, so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all this fuss and pay the man already.”

A few days later, deGrom did indeed secure a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension.

deGrom is 32 years old, with seven seasons of major league play in the books. He has been at the top of his game for a few years now. His outstanding rookie season was not his peak, but a sneak preview of what was to come. He seems to get better every year, with consistent velocity upticks that defy all baseball logic.

It makes complete sense why other MLB pitchers coming up today want to emulate him as much as possible.

deGrom is now at the “elder statesman” status of MLB pitchers where his name regularly gets tossed in as a comparison to young, dominant pitchers. A Bleacher Report article from August 2020 discussed Dustin May of the Los Angeles Dodgers as one of the most promising up-and-comers in the league, citing his “elite mix of velocity and movement” and “absurd life on [his] max-velocity fastball” as reasons why he could be compared to deGrom.

When deGrom himself burst onto the scene as a rookie, he was compared to power pitchers like Tim Lincecum and Francisco Liriano. Now, it is his turn to serve as an example for the 20-somethings bursting onto the scene in major league baseball today. Any pitchers coming up for the Mets over the next few years need only look his way when wondering how to craft a successful and sustainable major league career.

Next. Tracking Jacob deGrom's consistent quest for perfection

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Marked by the transition from “long-haired Jake” to “short-haired Jake” after the 2017 season, deGrom’s status seemed to flip almost overnight from “young up-and-coming pitcher” to “indisputable ace.” His stature has steadily risen since then, and his influence on today’s rising stars will continue to grow as he grows his own legend.

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