New York Mets: Can Jacob deGrom Somehow Get Better?

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom
Mar 11, 2020; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) delivers a pitch during a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Clover Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, Jacob deGrom threw to live hitters for the first time, and he looked dominant as ever. New York Mets manager Luis Rojas was in awe of how his two-time Cy Young winner looked.

“He’s showing up today, he’s throwing 99 [mph] and just easy having fun out there and the rest of his pitches like he was in midseason form,” Rojas said. “It’s like you just know what you are seeing, and it’s just a version of Jacob deGrom getting better.”

He is the pitcher’s version of Mike Trout, a guarantee to finish in the top-3 for the Cy Young award. deGrom may have even considered 2020 a disappointing season after winning consecutive Cy Young awards. He is already throwing 99 mph in camp after a season where he set a career-high in average fastball velocity (98.6 mph).

Is There Another Level?

It is hard to think deGrom can still, but there is always room to improve from last year. deGrom recorded his worst exit velocity (88.2 mph), hard-hit rate (33.6%), and barrel rate (9.6%). Everything else was per usual for the Mets ace. His career-high 13.8 K/9 and whiff rate in the 98th percentile still allowed him to have a 2.38 ERA.

It is remarkable that deGrom has not thrown a no-hitter within the last three years but do not be surprised if he hurls one in 2021. deGrom gets a full spring training to get ready and has mastered the art of pitching. He is turning 33 this season and still has not reached the 1,500 professional innings plateau. To put that number in perspective, Clayton Kershaw turns 33 this season and is already over 2,500 innings.

deGrom will continue to be successful because he can throw all three pitches at any point with pinpoint accuracy. Even when the velocity goes back to 93-95 in a couple of years, he will still succeed. When deGrom first came to the big leagues, he was known more as a contact pitcher. For 2021, beware of what deGrom can do with an average defense behind him for the first time.