Jacob deGrom was absolutely dominant in his prime. He had a sparkling 1.70 ERA across 217 innings to win his first NL Cy Young Award in 2018 and followed that up with another one, this time going 11-8 with a 2.43 ERA.
Unfortunately, deGrom has dealt with injuries over the past few years and is once again on the shelf due to Tommy John surgery. Nevertheless, deGrom is one of the best pitchers of his era.
Curtis Granderson saw a lot of pretty good pitchers throughout his 16-year career from 2004 to 2019, including Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, and other Hall of Famers. But Granderson had high praise for deGrom compared to them.
Granderson recalled when he realized that deGrom was the best pitcher that he’d seen during his appearance on the Audacy Original Podcast “Damon Amendolara's New York Accent” this week.
“(Jacob deGrom) was absolutely the best that I had seen,” Granderson said (20:10 in player above). “I faced him once as an opponent, and then I faced him prior to that as a teammate and that was the part that solidified it… When I faced him as a teammate in spring training in Port St. Lucie, we’re on the backfields and we got a simulated game, he’s up there throwing. And I come up there and I see the first pitch, and it’s like a backdoor cutter, but it’s not the traditional cutter that I’d seen… it was a perfect strike. I’m like, ’Okay, even if I wanted to swing at that, couldn’t do that.’
“That was a very quick at-bat,” Granderson laughed. “It was three pitches, and all pitches were dotted exactly where he wanted. And I didn’t swing the bat, and I felt like I couldn’t swing the bat.”
Granderson got further confirmation from one of the best hitters in the game.
“I remember being on first base one time with the Mets against the Reds at Citi Field and Joey Votto’s talking to me, and he goes, ‘You know what’s the coolest thing about playing for the Mets -- you don’t have to face these guys,’” he recalled. “When (Votto) said it, one of the best hitters in the game goes, ‘You don’t have to face them,’ that solidified it for me.”
This was during the years in which the Mets had aces Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard alongside deGrom, so it’s easy to understand what Votto was saying.
Despite deGrom having a second Tommy John surgery, over 10 years after his first, you can’t count him out.
“He’s one of the most athletic individuals I’ve ever seen,” Granderson said. “He’s definitely going to put the work in. And when he does come back, it will be at 100% of whatever Jacob deGrom is able to give you at that time. He’s not gonna sell you short.”