NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom knows that the light at the end of the tunnel is close, but he also knows that he still has some work to do to get there.After allowing a combined two earned runs in his first three starts this season, earning a win in each
NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom knows that the light at the end of the tunnel is close, but he also knows that he still has some work to do to get there.
After allowing a combined two earned runs in his first three starts this season, earning a win in each of them, the right-hander had surrendered 12 earned runs over his previous four starts, making his ERA rise from 1.02 to 3.07.
On Friday, deGrom tossed one of his better starts of the season, receiving a no-decision after holding the Dodgers to one run on three hits over seven innings while tying a season high with seven strikeouts in the Mets' 6-5 victory over the Dodgers.
But even after posting that line, deGrom opted to focus on the negatives, shedding a light on his three walks, the third consecutive start in which he's issued three walks, and the four full counts he pitched into.
"There's still some work [that needs to be done], but this is a step in the right direction," deGrom said. "I didn't give up as many hard-hit balls tonight. Location was a lot better tonight, minus the walks. I'd like to avoid some of those 3-2 counts and keep the pitch count a little lower, but we're going in the right direction."
"He didn't have his good stuff tonight ... but he just keeps pitching," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He never gives up. ... That's what I think separates him from a lot of other pitchers."
There were, however, positives that point toward a resurgent deGrom.
His slider was effective on both sides of the plate as he threw 20 of his 26 sliders for strikes.
Most importantly, though, was the uptick in his fastball velocity.
Through seven starts this season, deGrom averaged 92.8 mph on his four-seam fastball and 92.4 mph on his two-seamer. On Friday, his four-seamer averaged 94.5 mph and topped out at 96.7 mph. His two-seamer averaged 93.1 mph and topped out at 96 mph.
"I go off the swings and misses," deGrom said. "I had more swings and misses on my fastball tonight than I've had early on, so that tells me that it's got a little late life to it."
Friday's performance may not have featured deGrom's best, but it did get him a step closer to getting there.
"These are the times you really have to pitch, when you feel you don't go out there with your best stuff," deGrom said. "When you have your overpowering stuff, it feels like it is a lot easier. When you don't, you really have to pitch, so I think I can take away learning how to pitch from this."
Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.