For deGrom, 2016 holds promise of redemption

February 16th, 2016

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jacob deGrom can still close his eyes and see the fifth inning unfold before him. The leadoff walk to Alex Gordon. The run-scoring singles from Alcides Escobar and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. The Game 2 loss that thrust the Mets into an 0-2 World Series hole.
"I've definitely thought about it," deGrom said Tuesday morning at Mets camp. "That fifth inning wasn't too good. There's been definitely some looking back on that and understanding where I went wrong.
"I want to get back there and have a chance to redeem myself."
The final start of deGrom's 2015 season is still fresh in his mind, he says, largely because it ultimately went so awry. The Royals scored three runs in the fifth inning, shortening deGrom's night and sending the Mets to what became a 7-1 loss.

Over and over, deGrom has replayed that night in his mind. But in the three months since, he has not watched any video of the start. He has not analyzed his mechanics. DeGrom prefers to pore over his good outings -- his favorite is last year's one-hit, 11-strikeout performance against the Cardinals -- and try to replicate them. There isn't much he feels he can learn from the bad ones.
"There are a lot of pitches that I wish I could have back," deGrom said. "The thing is to try not to dwell on it too much. I think the reason that's so fresh in my mind is because it was my last start, and it was probably the biggest game of my life. So I definitely think about it a little bit, but once the season starts, it will be out of my head, and it's on to a new goal."
For deGrom, that goal is to improve upon the best season of his life. Making his first All-Star team, deGrom finished 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA, then went 3-0 with a 1.80 mark over the first two rounds of postseason play. It was not until the World Series that he scuffled -- and even then, the fifth inning alone vexed him.
Many around the team, including pitching coach Dan Warthen, believe fatigue played a role. But even now, deGrom shrugs off that notion, saying he felt fine throughout Game 2.
"I was hoping that I would get a start there in Game 6," he said. "Unfortunately I didn't. But even when the season was over, I felt good. There were no different aches and pains than the year before. I don't think anything was any different."

And that, for the Mets, may be the best news of all, heading into their pennant defense.
"We expect to make it back to the World Series and win it this time," deGrom said. "That's everybody's goal here."