deGrom ties Bob Gibson’s record ... and homers

April 4th, 2019

MIAMI -- Before his historic night on the mound, predicted hitting a home run, not setting Major League and personal records with his prized right arm.

But the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner managed to accomplish both during Wednesday night's 6-4 win over the Marlins at Marlins Park.

deGrom, who fired seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball and struck out a career-high 14 batters, matched Bob Gibson's Major League record of 26 straight quality starts (1967-68) and surpassed Eddie Cicotte (1916-17) in the process.

He also led off the third with his second career homer, ambushing a first-pitch, 89.7 mph fastball, depositing it a projected 383 feet into the Mets' bullpen in right field. According to Statcast, the home run had a 102.4 mph exit velocity, with a 35-degree launch angle.

His other homer came on June 18, 2017, off Nationals righty Joe Ross. deGrom is the fifth pitcher since 1969 to strike out at least 14 and homer in the same game (per Elias Sports Bureau):

- Jacob deGrom, 4/3/19
- Madison Bumgarner, 8/16/15
- Steve Carlton, 8/21/77
- Tom Seaver, 5/29/73
- Bob Gibson, 8/30/72

"Tonight, that was probably the best I've felt in a long time," said deGrom, who also extended his career-best streak of consecutive scoreless frames to 26. "I don't even know. I felt smooth, I wasn't falling off hard. Whenever I say that, I feel like you could almost -- after you throw -- just walk to home plate. It's none of the falling off to first. It's a direct line. I felt that tonight."

The 30-year-old right-hander threw 114 pitches (79 strikes). When he took the mound for the seventh inning, he was cognizant of how close he was to a career high in strikeouts, but he also knew he needed to punch out the side the way he did in the third. After he fanned the first two batters, that became a goal.

According to Statcast, deGrom maxed out at 98.8 mph in his outing. He used his slider, a pitch that had given him trouble during Spring Training, 29 times and reached 94.9 mph on the radar gun with it. In that seventh inning, he turned to his changeup seven times, including on the final pitch of all three at-bats, and got a swinging strike on each occasion.

"Noticed the slider was really good and was getting quite a bit of swings and misses on it," he said. "Stuck with that and still had confidence in the changeup, and that last inning used it quite a bit."

Added former teammate and Marlins outfielder Curtis Granderson, who struck out twice: “He's not going to make a ton of mistakes. If he does, you try to capitalize on them. He didn't make that many over the course of the game. He didn't give you a ton of pitches to do anything with.”

deGrom's stretch of quality starts began on May 18, 2018, in a 3-1 win over the D-backs at Citi Field. He allowed one run over seven innings with 13 strikeouts in that outing.

The last time deGrom didn't record a quality start -- May 13, 2018 -- he was pulled after a 45-pitch first inning against the Phillies. He had just come off the injured list with a hyperextended right elbow, and a 59-minute rain delay preceded the first pitch.

During this 26-start stretch, deGrom has compiled a 1.55 ERA over 185 2/3 innings, with 237 strikeouts compared to 34 walks. He acknowledged the difficulty of trying to carry over momentum from his memorable 2018.

"That's tough," he said. "I got asked that some in spring. Last year's over. It's a new year. I think that's kind of my mindset. Go out there and continue to try and work and get better and figure out ways to get guys out."

deGrom's notable feats don't stop there.

With his latest stellar performance, deGrom extended his Major League record of allowing no more than three runs to 31 straight starts and recorded his 34th career double-digit strikeout game (and third consecutive). He also became the first pitcher since at least 1908 to throw back-to-back scoreless starts with 10-plus strikeouts and one or fewer walks.

"Probably the best weapons," manager Mickey Callaway said of deGrom’s arsenal. "It's kind of showing up that he probably has the best stuff in all the Major Leagues -- or maybe for a long time. What he's doing is historic, and you have to have really nasty stuff to do that. It's great weapons, and there's four of them."