Peter Hyatt - Jacob DeGrom's Pitching Meltdown


Media made an issue of Jacob DeGrom crying in the dugout.  This is typical media; they will write anything that gets attention.  

The truth?

DeGrom is a fierce and fearless competitor.  

He will pitch injured if he believes he can help his team.  He will back down down batters throwing close, he will hit, bunt, run, slide and in short, he will do anything to help his team win. 

DeGrom has  been a reluctant tool for  the public relations machinery, including his agent, of marketing his hair and DeGrom feels it is all just a distraction from what he is doing. 

DeGrom is all business in this sport and his business is baseball, not marketing, not slogans, not individualism and not enjoying the pressure from his agent and others who wish to cash in on DeGrom. 

He lives and breathes baseball.  Baseball is his business.  

I am not an expert in body language, but this much was clear:  those tears were not "poor me" tears; those tears were rage, frustration and ultimately letting down his team.  He went in to be the stopper and he bleeds team.  This was not selfishness, but selflessness.  

Jacob DeGrom no longer considers himself a "kid" nor an amateur. He does not even consider himself a one-dimensional player.  This is something very important to him.  It is why he works hard at fielding, hitting, bunting, running and he is very concerned with lifting up the other players while he is not pitching.  He is the ultimate team man.  

We can take comfort in this:

His velocity is there and he does not appear to have an injury, though with his toughness, this is sometimes difficult to discern. 

DeGrom is what is known in baseball as a good guy.  He is both loved and respected in the clubhouse.  In a clubhouse where men like Curtis Granderson, David Wright and others who work their craft in gratitude to fans who pay them, and put team first, DeGrom has always supported others.  See his recent comments about Noah Syndergaard, who is having some tough life lessons mailed with his name on them.  DeGrom's concern for Syndergaard came on the heels of his pitching meltdown.  He's a class act and as he gets older, he'll increase in clubhouse value with up and coming young pitchers.  Even Jose Reyes' comments about being displaced by Amed Rosario are noble. Tough lessons can bring out strength. 

 These Mets can, and just may, pull things together enough to make a fun summer, should Alderson make some moves to shake out the doldrums that has settled upon them.  They have character and it must be garnished with an infusion of energy, such as Rosario and maybe even Dom Smith, may provide.  

DeGrom will figure this out. 

 He will check everything, including spin rotation statistics and he will work through this, in incessant video and seeking of counsel from others.  My only concern here is that he try to tackle it physically, which driven athletes tend to do.  But with his humility, he is likely to yield to older and wiser suggestions.  

Keith Hernandez shed some wisdom last week about Michael Conforto, slumps and psychology.  He was talking about hitting but it is applicable to pitching in a game that spans 6 months and 162 games. 

Minimize your slumps

He said you will have regular slumps and you must learn to minimize the length of them, but you will have them. 

This is a lot more wisdom than the booth recognized. 

Jacob DeGrom will fight through this mystery of why his pitches are "flat."  The weapon of the fight is not his mechanics but his brain.  

He shed tears because he is invested in baseball.  It is what is in his hands to do and he does this to the best of his ability.  He is a husband and father who sees baseball as both his living and craft, as well as his purpose in life. 

DeGrom's frustration is acute and the comfort offered by Terry Collins is a reminder of what a decent man Collins is, even in spite of working under Alderson's financial mandates.  The simple act of sympathy from the 68 year old is something DeGrom will remember 30 years from now when this slump is long forgotten.  I've been critical of Collins' leadership but as a man, he is to be respected for his care of his players.  His hamstring cut by Alderson, and the flow of injuries all must be taken into account.  

Jacob DeGrom is going to be just fine.  He has a strong intellect which matches his devotion to the game and this intellect will be like a light bulb that will suddenly come on, make sense, and we'll see him pitch smarter. 


Thomas Brennan said...

I concur with your take on Jake deGrom. He is my favorite Mets pitcher and favorite Met. He gives it all, and then some. I hope he retires as a Met. Seaver stuff when he is right.

Thomas Brennan said...

Great article, by the way.

Mack Ade said...

I still remember the day he arrived in Savannah. No one basically knew who he was and he walked over to the bump in the pen and started throwing 93-94 mph fastballs. The entire Sand Gnat pitching staff gathered and just stared while Frank Viola just stood there smiling.

Thomas Brennan said...

Mack, we are still smiling, even through Jake's occasional struggles. Jake is the best.

Peter Hyatt said...

He was all DeGrom last night in his complete game. He took it to the Cubs and had spent a lot of video hours in preparation for this, going over his motion as carefully as a surgeon.

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