This will be hard to believe given how overpowering he was, but Jacob deGrom was actually nervous when he took the mound against the Nationals on Friday night.
Why? His stuff looked too good in his pregame bullpen session.
“Tonight, I noticed my stuff was really good in the bullpen, and I’ve had starts where my stuff was really good in the bullpen and you come into the game and lose a bit of focus,” deGrom said. “So walking in, I was thinking ‘hey, you have to keep that focus throughout the whole game.’”
Typically, if a pitcher’s arsenal has the right shape and feel before their outing, it would help breed confidence that it would translate into the game. But deGrom has noticed the opposite in his pregame routine, and was a little hesitant in believing that his pitches would carry over onto the game mound.
“That made me a little nervous, because I think some of my best starts, I’ve barely thrown strikes down there,” deGrom said. “So walking in, I was a little nervous, but once I got out there, calmed down and was executing pitches I calmed down and was just trying to keep us in the ballgame.”
deGrom didn’t just keep the Mets in the game, he single-handedly won it, throwing a complete game shutout with a career-high 15 strikeouts, while going 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI, the game’s first run. deGrom received insurance from the New York offense, but he didn’t need it, as he continued a dominant and historic start to the season.
“It’s definitely enjoyable,” deGrom said. “That’s what we love to do is compete. Tonight, I felt really good. That’s the best my changeup has felt in a long time. I had three pitches working, and I was comfortable throwing them at any time. So that made it a lot of fun. It’s fun, but the goal is to still put up zeroes. There was a little bit of stress to go out there and keep putting up zeroes for the guys.”
deGrom tends to keep his focus on putting up those zeroes, regardless of how he records the outs, but as his strikeout total reached a dozen on Friday, even he be