Jacob deGrom memories #2: The deGrom game
This is the most dominant pitching performance I’ve ever watched from start to finish. The Washington Nationals had no chance whatsoever against deGrom on April 23rd, 2021.
On the last page, I talked about how deGrom had his full arsenal and excellent command for his eight consecutive strikeout game in 2014. That was the old deGrom. Now fast forward to 2021 when he throws 101, and his 4-seam and slider are so elite that he scrapped his sinker and curveball altogether, and he rarely uses his changeup.
The deGrominator started the night with a three-pitch strikeout of Andrew Stevenson, finishing him with 101 low and in. Completely unfair pitch. He followed that by striking out Josh Harrison on a slider that almost bounced in the left-handed batters box. In the second inning, he blew Josh Bell away with a fastball up and in, and then got Yan Gomes chasing an outside slider.
The rest of the night continued like this. The Nationals never figured out their timing or deGrom’s sequencing, so they were constantly late on fastballs and early on sliders and changeups. The most impressive inning was the top of the 7th, when deGrom carved through the heart of the Nationals’ order to set the record for the most strikeouts through four starts in a season with 50. He got Trea Turner and Josh Bell chasing low changeups, and froze Schwarber with a slider low and in.
The “Master of His Craft,” as broadcaster Gary Cohen likes to say, would finish the night with a two-hit shutout and 15 strikeouts, a personal best for the ace. It was the third consecutive start in which he struck out 14 batters or more. It’s still astonishing as I type this nearly two years later.
Oh, and did I mention he had two hits, including an RBI double? That guy can do it all.