If Jacob deGrom doesn’t get run support this season, then he probably should start to take it personally.
The Mets’ ace, his work done for the spring — next stop, Opening Night at Nationals Park on Thursday — voiced a less pot-stirring version of that notion on Friday at Clover Park.
Recalling how he surveyed his own club’s starting eight in his previous outing, March 21 at the Nationals in West Palm Beach, deGrom said: “That’s a tough lineup. So that’s kind of how I look at it, and almost all the guys who are most likely going to be starting were in that game. So that was really cool to see and definitely exciting.
“The additions we made are definitely exciting, and I’m looking forward to getting this thing started.”
Coming from the low-key deGrom, who won consecutive National League Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019 despite totaling 21 wins (tying him with four others for 17th place in the league over that period), that’s not nothing. The 32-year-old voiced a sunny forecast after facing some of his teammates in a B game, with young catcher Francisco Alvarez taking one of his 90 pitches deep; deGrom skipped the Grapefruit League action against the Nationals in order to not give them another look at his stuff.
Out of the chute, on a laptop, this has to be the best Mets roster since deGrom joined the big league operation. The offense appears fearsome, although deGrom insisted he wouldn’t change his approach from his days of (offense) famine and (ownership) pestilence.
“I treat everything like it’s a 0-0 baseball game,” he said. “I’ve said before that I don’t like giving up runs. Even if we have a 10-run lead, I don’t like giving up runs. It’s my goal to put up zeroes and give us a chance to win.”
DeGrom even offered praise to his club’s defense.
“I think we have a very good defense we’re going to run out there,” he said. “Everyone’s always talking about the offense, but the games that I’ve pitched, they’ve played great defense behind me. I’m looking forward to getting out there when they actually count.”
We’ll see if that optimism sticks. No NL club gets hurt as badly as the Mets by the removal of the designated hitter (utilized last year as a health and safety precaution). And this Mets bullpen certainly possesses the capacity to blow a few save opportunities.
He can sweat that stuff if it comes to fruition. For the moment, undefeated — and as you know, the Mets always win Opening Day — hope springs eternal.
“The pieces we added this offseason are definitely exciting and … we’re looking forward to April 1 and playing a whole 162 and seeing where we’re at,” deGrom said. “But I think you probably ask most everyone on this team what their goals were previously, whether they were with us or not, I think that’s just part of being a competitor. You’re always looking to win the ultimate prize, and for baseball that’s the World Series.”
The Steve Cohen Era of Good Feelings will get a boost if the Mets can buy their impending free agents Francisco Lindor (it sure feels likely) and Michael Conforto (it sure feels less likely) out of the open market this coming offseason. DeGrom, who signed his five-year, $137.5-million extension two days before Opening Day 2019, knows what that can be like, as neither Lindor nor Conforto want to negotiate during the regular season.
“You definitely think about it. It’s not necessarily easy, but that makes it easier being here and getting ready,” deGrom said. “So that’s the way I viewed it. If something didn’t get done, well, then you’ve got to go there and still compete and be ready and play to the best of your ability.”
If deGrom optimizes his ability this year, he might win his third Cy Young the old-fashioned way, with plenty of wins. It must be nice to have these hitters on your side.