These days, it is not uncommon for pitchers to unlock more velocity either by exercising their boudy and bulking up or by making mechanical tweaks to their deliveries. However, the specific case of New York Mets‘ ace Jacob deGrom has no precedents in the major leagues: he has added five miles per hour (mph) to his four-seam fastball since the 2016 campaign, which is utterly impressive.
For the Mets, having deGrom as their ace is a blessing. For the rest of the league, it is terrifying to know that the right-hander had a 2.05 ERA between the 2018 and 2019 seasons with more than 11 K/9 and did all that by throwing softer than he does now.
As a pitcher ages, it is natural to lose some fastball velocity, as Father Time usually wins all battles. But deGrom is now 32 years old and increasing his velo. Amazing, indeed.
The Mets’ velocity artist
In his start against the Boston Red Sox, the New York Mets’ two-time Cy Young award winner threw two pitches at 101.1 mph. In his last appearance against the Atlanta Braves, hitting 100 mph was a routine.
MLB.com registered deGrom’s fastball velocity since the 2016 season:
2016: 93.9 mph (T-38th of 142 SP, min. 750 fastballs)
2017: 95.1 mph (T-16th of 140)
2018: 95.8 mph (T-6th of 132)
2019: 96.9 mph (3rd of 128)
2020: 98.7 mph (1st of 155, min. 25)
The Mets’ star explained that he achieved this with time and practice. “This [coronavirus] break — and even in spring, just working on my delivery — I actually feel like it’s coming out with less effort than in years past,” deGrom told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo on Monday. “I think just with that time off, I continued to work on my delivery, and feel like everything’s kind of in line where I want it to be.”
It is fair to say that his work has paid off. Has he reached his ceiling or will he continue to unlock more heat?