deGrom displays mettle without best stuff
NEW YORK -- From the moment he realized he was in line to start the Mets' home opener, Jacob deGrom had been eagerly awaiting his start on Monday.
Then as deGrom stood on the mound in front of a record home crowd, he realized he did not have his best stuff. He would have to pitch without complete command of his fastball and a breaking ball that he said was not sharp. Despite that, deGrom turned in another formidable outing.
In front of a sellout crowd of 43,947 -- the largest regular-season crowd ever at Citi Field -- deGrom blanked the Phillies offense through 6 1/3 shutout innings to lead the Mets to a 2-0 victory. He retired the first seven batters he faced, and even though he was tagged for seven hits, he did not allow a runner to reach third base until the seventh inning.
"It was a lot of fun," deGrom said. "It was kind of like my debut."
Considering deGrom's big league debut came last May, he was able to smile when asked about how far he has come. He was not on the Mets' Opening Day roster last season, yet ended up winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
deGrom carries a streak of 11 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to his last start. His record at home has been even more impressive -- 6-3 with a 1.56 ERA -- and he has not surrendered more than three runs here.
Citi Field was a different place Monday than it had been through deGrom's first season, with the full house spending the afternoon working itself into a frenzy from the start of the game. The Mets have lofty expectations this season, and the strength of deGrom and their pitching staff is a part of the reason.
"If you're going to pitch in the big leagues, you have to get used to this stage," manager Terry Collins said.
deGrom looked comfortable on that stage Monday. He knew he did not have his best control while warming up in the bullpen, but he was able to complete a solid outing. Facing the starving-for-offense Phillies helped, but regardless, an outing like Monday was encouraging for the Mets.
"He's a special, special pitcher," Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. "He's got great stuff, and most of all he's got heart. He showed it today, when he went out there and battled."