Jacob deGrom is a competitive beast. Of course, that should go without saying, as a person doesn’t win two Cy Youngs in a row in a league that headlines Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and the like without some inner fire. The New York Mets have been lucky enough to witness the prime of a mound star.
It is that drive and desire to be better all the time the thing that has made Jacob deGrom’s career so successful.
The Mets’ ace pitched a simulated game on Tuesday to be right on schedule for opening day. The conditions at Clover Park didn’t generate too much adrenaline. It was a fairly non-competitive environment. Yet, deGrom pitched in front of players and coaches, and few more. The reactions off his pitches were audible to those in attendance.
DeGrom threw 30 pitches to a group of hitters headlined by reigning Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario.
“Even to our guys, I don’t like giving up hits,” deGrom said to MLB.com. “It’s frustrating. So I don’t know if I’m hard on myself or really competitive. They’re trying to get work in, I’m trying to get work in. Their goal is to get a hit and mine’s to not give up hits. I think it’s just the competitive part of it.”
The Mets’ internal competition is on!
Conforto was the one with the most success against deGrom in the session. The New York Mets’ right fielder connected two of the three hits that the ace gave up in a couple of innings of “work”.
When Jed Lowrie hit a screaming ground ball to the third base line, deGrom argued vociferously that the ball was foul from his favorite place: the mound. He was really into it, even though it was just a simulated game.
“Those are tough hitters,” deGrom said. “Great guys to be around. This has been a fun spring — everybody’s having fun and getting along great. Watching these guys play is impressive. When they stepped in the box, I didn’t want to give up hits to them.”
You can call him stubborn, competitive, or hard-on-himself. But that attitude has given deGrom a shot at a career 2.62 ERA in 1,101.2 innings. It’s because of that he’s looking for his third straight Cy Young award. The Mets sure aren’t complaining.