Move over Matt Harvey: itís Jacob deGromís town now
On the surface they couldnít be more different. Matt Harvey is broad-shouldered and Broadway. Jacob deGrom is slender and tight-lipped, often barely noticeable within the confines of the Mets clubhouse.
But Harvey and deGrom are the same person on a pitcherís mound. That is Harveyís assessment having watched the 26-year-old rookie pitch a handful of games for the Mets this season.
ďHeís a little goofy, a little quiet, but when he gets on the mound you can tell that he means business,Ē Harvey said before deGrom dominated the Giants in a 4-2 victory Saturday night at Citi Field. ďAs somebody who is like that when I take the mound, I can notice other guys who are like that.Ē
Harvey-mania gripped the Big Apple last season. Weíve now reached the point where deGrom delirium is taking over.
Maybe deGromís finest work came Saturday. In a stare down with Jake Peavy, it was deGrom who blinked first and allowed a base runner. But when Peavy finally cracked, a flood ensued.
DeGrom walked Brandon Belt in the fifth, allowed his first hit, a double to Pablo Sandoval, in the seventh and departed with a four-hitter and two runs allowed over 7 Ļ/₃ innings.
Peavy was perfect for 6 Ļ/₃ innings, but after Daniel Murphy doubled over Michael Morseís head, the deluge was about to begin. The Mets finished the inning with four hits and a 4-0 lead.
DeGrom is 6-1 with a 1.52 ERA over his last eight starts and has served notice the Mets have a third amigo to join Harvey and Zack Wheeler in the 2015 rotation.
Harvey calls it a ďfearlessĒ mentality that sets deGrom apart from many others. The goal as a pitcher in the minors is figuring out what it will take to reach the majors ó what pitches you need to show you can command in addition to getting outs. Once you get to the majors, itís all about the end result.
ďWatching him, it just seems he knows, ĎAll I have to do is get that guy out,í Ē Harvey said. ďAnd you can kind of see that when heís on the mound. He has that presence where, ĎHey, itís me vs. you, Iím going to stay here and Iím getting you out.í
ďI have talked to him a little bit and I think he has that mindset where he gets on the mound and heís kind of fearless. He pounds the zone, he doesnít walk guys and heís not afraid.Ē
Harvey carries that same gunslingerís mentality, and fits the part. DeGrom is more the silent assassin.
ďI am a competitor and go right after guys,Ē deGrom said. ďI feel like that when we get on that mound, we are kind of the same way.Ē
The Mets like to tease deGrom because of his long hair. That includes a poster near deGromís locker that shows a Mets cap with flowing hair underneath and the message ď#Hairwego
.Ē The poster includes a snippet of deGromís hair.
Harvey, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery ó he works out in Port St. Lucie, Fla., when the Mets are on the road ó said he doesnít watch the away games, so he missed deGromís back-to-back gems against the Mariners and Brewers on the last trip. He was front and center for Saturdayís masterpiece, sitting with deGrom between innings.
Last year at this time, Harvey had just begun hearing deGromís name ó the two had never crossed paths in the minor leagues.
ďI had no idea who he was until maybe the All-Star break last year,Ē Harvey said. ďThrough the media, the big talk at the time was [Noah] Syndergaard, and then I started hearing about [deGrom] midway through the season and how good he was doing.Ē
More than midway through another season, the Mets appreciate how well deGrom is pitching for a team that has refused to quit on the season.
Harvey-mania is on the shelf, but the Mets have deGrom delirium to carry them through.