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Mets get above and beyond from Jacob deGrom’s first start

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 21: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets throws a pitch during a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 21, 2021 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 21: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets throws a pitch during a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 21, 2021 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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For the New York Mets, it’s a new season, but still the same Jacob deGrom.

After a delayed start to the 2021 season due to a COVID outbreak among the Washington Nationals, the Mets won their first game of the season after riding a strong first outing from the best pitcher in baseball. While the Mets were excited to simply watch baseball, deGrom was certainly the main event as he began his quest for his third Cy Young in four seasons.

If the opener against the Phillies was any indication of what to expect from deGrom, then Mets fans are in for a treat. The two-time Cy Young winner threw six scoreless innings for his 136th career quality start. With the Mets ace stating in the offseason that he had his sights set not only on another Cy Young award, but the Hall of Fame, there’s a lot of expectations riding on deGrom.

While there are certain to be many things to highlight for deGrom in 2021, here are three things that stood out from the Mets’ first game of the season.

Jacob deGrom is throwing…..harder?

Much to the dismay of Mets fans, deGrom only threw 77 pitches. Manager Luis Rojas said this was due to deGrom not pitching in 10 days. Of those 77 pitches, 59 of them were four-seam fastballs, which were thrown at an average of 99.1 MPH. Last season, Jacob averaged 98.6 on his four-seam fastball. Much ado was made over deGrom’s velocity during the spring and even last season, but while he noted that not pitching in 10 days had a negative impact on him, the increased average velocity is impressive to say the least.

The defense behind deGrom is going to be much better this season

While the 8th inning didn’t demonstrate any positives for the Mets, the six innings of defense behind deGrom were stellar. The first inning saw Rhys Hoskins drive an almost-home run off the top of the right field wall, which he tried to stretch into a triple. While most will agree that Kevin Pillar shouldn’t have been starting the game nor leading off, he played the ball perfectly off the wall and hit Jeff McNeil, who then relayed a perfect throw to nab Hoskins at third base.

In the next inning, Jean Segura hit a grounder up the middle, which was smothered by newly extended Francisco Lindor who then flipped to McNeil for a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. The play, which Lindor made look easy, was in fact incredibly difficult, but the ability to cover ground up the middle is going to pay dividends for deGrom.

Jacob deGrom can do it all

Jacob deGrom expressed his excitement this offseason at the opportunity to hit again after having the universal DH in the truncated 2020 season. The Mets ace also slightly lamented the fact that this would probably be the last season he got the opportunity to bat, something he’s enjoyed doing in his career (he also has three career home runs).

While all eyes have been on Shohei Ohtani, the two-way superstar from Japan, deGrom showed that he can still handle the bat when given the chance as he collected two hits in three at bats with an RBI.

DeGrom probably won’t hit any 450-foot bombs, but it doesn’t mean that he can’t help the Mets out with the bat this season.

The season opener certainly didn’t end the way Mets fans had envisioned, but with deGrom looking like he’s in midseason form already, they should be prepared for another huge season in Flushing.

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