Port ST. Lucie – Before Jacob deGrom climbs the hill for his spring debut against the Astros at Clover Park on March 22, Max Schaezer challenges him to throw a first-pitch curveball.
According to Baseball Savant, DeGrome certainly isn’t one to back down on pitching guts, throwing the pitch only .3% of the time. His 80 mph first-pitch curveball for Astros’ Levin Brinson that opened the second inning went into the zone for strike. DeGrom immediately glanced at the Mets dugout, caught Scherzer’s reaction, and laughed.
If the in-game interaction between DeGrom and Shazer is any indication, the two aces will be challenging and trying to out-pitch each other throughout the year. Put two of the best pitchers in baseball in the same clubhouse, two pitchers who have been putting the NL East hitters to shame for the better part of the last decade, and the expectations are limitless. Once they are both completely healthy, ie. Both called off spring training with injuries—Scherzer was battling hamstring tightness, but expected to take his first turn through the rotation; DeGrom has been taken off for four weeks with a stress reaction in his right shoulder bone. Still, in some ways, Scherzer and deGrom have already outperformed each other.
“I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve been around him and already learning from him, picking up his mind,” DeGrom said of Shazer. “He’s been in this sport a long time and he’s going to be a Hall of Famer, so you can be around people like that anytime… I look forward to competing with him this whole year.”
Scherzer and deGrom will spend half of the year at the same clubhouse, with the same goals, on the same team. Scherzer, the perennial Cy Young candidate, who threw two no-hitters in 2015 and has recorded at least 230 strikes every year since 2012 (not counting the 2020 pandemic-shortened season), was up for the Mets’ longtime degrom Will take a backseat. Ace seriously, let it sink in.
While the Mets’ signing Shazer this past offseason may still be hard to believe for fans who have watched fall after fall and have waited 36 years for the championship in Queens, the multi-cy Young winner feels a sense of disbelief. are before. Now, they are sharing notes.
It wasn’t until April 28, 2017 — a thrilling nightcap at Scherzer’s Ground in the National Park — that deGrom and Scherzer would go toe-to-toe for the first time in their careers. It was not a typical Scherzer debut, as the national ace conceded five earned runs on nine hits, including a pair of home runs to Travis D’Arnaud in six innings. Even though the Mets handed Scherzer his second loss of the season that night, the right-hander managed to finish the 2017 season 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA. And, oh yes, his third career Cy Young Award.
DeGrom scored his first win of the season since d’Arnaud, and the Mets supported the Amazons in a 7–5 win over the Nations in the game in late April. From the second dugout, Scherzer saw DeGrom dismiss 12 batsmen in 112 pitches and seven innings. DeGrom finished eighth in the NL Cy Young votes that year, but his April 28 debut was a sign of better things to come.
Although DeGrom and Shazer have always been competitors, they began to be friends after Kevin Long, the former Mets hitting coach, was hired by the Nationals for the same role ahead of the 2018 season. The two aces negotiate now that they’re on the same team – laughing and throwing good-humored jabs – it’s easy to forget that they spent a few years seeing each other from opposing dugouts.
“Things really accelerated when Kevin Long came into the Nationals from the Mets,” Scherzer said. “Major garbage talker. He likes to pit the two of us against each other. Knows how to really play both sides of the fence. So, because of K. Long, we had some behind-the-scenes conversations.” of it.”
Scherzer and deGrom have started against each other six times, with the Mets and Nationals each winning three games in aces matchups. Scherzer has a 2-2 record in those games; The degrom is 2-1.
“We were always competing against each other,” Scherzer said. “That’s the fun part of it. I love competing against them because I really respect the way they play their game, everything, move yourself on and off the field. You carry yourself like that.” You earn respect, so it’s fun to compete against him.”
Another multi-cy rotation
For the first time since 2008, the Mets rotation will include multiple Cy Young winners this season. The last multi-cy young winners to take on the mound in the same season in Queens were Pedro Martínez and Johan Santana. Martinez had three Cy Youngs and Santana had two, much like the dangerous pairing of Scherzer and DeGrom in 2022.
But pitching in with some of the most elite weapons in the game is nothing new for Scherzer. Just last season, Scherzer joined three-time Cy Young champ Clayton Kershaw after being traded to the Dodgers from the Nationals. Overall, there were four Cy Young winners in the 2021 Dodgers rotation, setting a record for a team in one season.
Scherzer also decorated two-time Cy Young winner, as well as veteran right-hander Justin Verlander with the Detroit Tigers, where Scherzer was considered a “second pitcher”. He has also served with the Nationals alongside three-time All-Star and 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasberg.
“I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career,” Scherzer said. “I’ve been pitching with great pitchers all my career. I’ve been pitching with the best. I’ve been at every stop, I have to check another name I’ve played with. It’s honestly my One of the favorite parts of a career is playing with the best in the game.
“It’s only fair that I get to pitch with Jake now. That was a big reason why I wanted to be here. I’ve competed against him for so long, I know how great he is, well Compare notes now.
Scherzer is the seventh multi-Cy Young winner to pitch for the Amazins. The Mets already have six such pitchers in franchise history – Tom Seaver, Tom Glavin, Brett Saberhagen, Martinez, Santana and DeGrom – two more than any other team.
intense vs. casual
There is at least one difference in outlook when multi-sang winners are preparing for the start. To say Scherzer is intense is like saying a Mets love drama. Even when Scherzer is heating up during a bullpen, he is extremely fierce. Last week, as Scherzer threw a batch of warmup pitches to James McCann before a simulated game, Scherzer began barking at McCann’s instructions and shouted at least one curse word after nearly every pitch.
Scherzer yelled at McCann: “Put the glove in the middle of your body, and put your dk on the corner of the strike zone!”
When the degrom is hot, he is quite relaxed, smiling, and joking. Even during the live batting practice session, in which DeGrom is facing his own teammates, his carefree attitude is part of the package. Still, it’s not like DeGrom is “taking it easy” in these live BP sessions. The Mets batsmen were completely impressed by DeGrome’s triple-digit fastball and the movement on his sliders. DeGrom would, at times, stand on the mound smiling in his gloves.
But when there is another jersey in the batsman’s box, DeGrom’s smile fades. He’s all business, all patience, all intense, all the time.
“Jake is just as intense as Max, but he can go back and forth,” said Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. “Whereas Max is a little bit intense all the time. But when Jake is working out, he is one of the most intense people I have ever seen.”
Scherzer was stuck around the park on a March afternoon so that deGrom could make his first start in eight months. Shazer’s enthusiasm was evident as the eight-time All-Star leaned against the dugout railing and watched DeGrome retire five of the seven batsmen he faced. Scherzer, aged 37, would enter his 15th season in the big leagues, while deGrom, aged 33, would pitch in his ninth.
Shazer and DeGrom’s achievements will be directly related to the team’s potential success in the Mets’ 2022 season. While fans may try to curb their hopes after years of burnout and disappointment, it will be far easier to get excited for the pitching clincher that will take over Citi Field this season and beyond.