Jacob deGrom never makes it easy for opposing hitters. The New York Mets ace rarely gives anything away for free which had me wondering: when was the last time he intentionally walked a hitter?
deGrom has actually given 13 free passes in his career, but none in the last two seasons.
This took me back to June 28, 2019, to find the answer. Playing host to the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field, deGrom issued his only intentional walk of the year in the top of the third inning.
Jacob deGrom’s last intentional walk came against a well-known Mets foe
Down 2-0 in the third inning, Ronald Acuna Jr. led off with a single. He proceeded to steal second base and moved over to third base on a groundout.
The Braves were then 90 feet away from taking a three-run lead. Up to the plate stepped Freddie Freeman, a legendary Mets enemy.
deGrom wasn’t about to mess around against Freeman. He issued a free pass hoping to set up a double play. However, a sacrifice fly to the next batter, Josh Donaldson, resulted in a run. Freeman would steal second base but a strikeout to Nick Markakis would leave the noted Mets killer stranded.
deGrom and Freeman have had many battles over the years. Freeman has 63 total at-bats against him, tied for a personal record with Stephen Strasburg. From deGrom’s perspective, nobody else has more than 44 at-bats against him so he has seen Freeman more than anyone else.
As division rivals, it’s bound to happen. The Mets starter has handled the Braves’ star first baseman well. Lifetime, Freeman has hit .238/.324/.413 with 3 home runs against deGrom. If there’s one surprising statistic on his stat line against Jake it’s that he has stolen 5 bases against him—more than any other pitcher.
Freeman has struck out against deGrom more than anyone else with 19 Ks, but his 8 walks are second to only Bryce Harper. Freeman’s three home runs, however, are second to only Giancarlo Stanton against deGrom. So, it’s not an absolutely lopsided tug-of-war between the two.
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Something about deGrom’s mentality has it hard for me to envision too many more intentional walks in the future. In 2018, something clicked in his head. Although he awarded three free passes to batters that year, he has only given up one from 2019-onward. Outside of those rare instances where it’s a wise strategy, I don’t envision too many more.