deGrom shrugs off injury scare with 11-K gem

April 23rd, 2023

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said on Sunday that the best part about coming out of retirement is the chance to watch players like every day again. Bochy has managed some of the best in the game over the last three decades, but managing a generational talent like deGrom is special even for a seasoned skipper like himself.

deGrom gave Bochy something to watch on Sunday, when he returned to the mound after a slight injury scare in his last start in Kansas City to toss six innings of two-run ball in the Rangers’ 5-2 win against the A’s at Globe Life Field.

“When you step back for a little bit, you miss having a really good seat and seeing the best players in the world,” Bochy said. “They can be elite and you just appreciate their gifts and talents, and that's the same with Jake. You just marvel at how good these guys can be. I'm a fan when he pitches, trust me.”

deGrom cruised through the first four innings, allowing just two hits -- both singles -- and quieted any concerns about the sore wrist that caused him to leave in the fifth inning against the Royals on Monday. 

His lone mistake came in the fifth inning, when he hung a slider middle-middle to catcher Shea Langeliers, who promptly sent the pitch a Statcast-projected 433 feet into the second deck of the left-field stands. 

“I felt good,” deGrom said postgame. “I came out of the one before this a little early out of precaution, but felt really good today, so that was a huge plus. I think [I’m rounding into form]. Especially late there, I was able to throw the changeup and it was really good. Anytime I can mix it up a little bit more versus just the fastball-slider [combo], it's a huge plus.”

After the home run, deGrom immediately struck out the next two batters and then struck out the side the following inning to end his outing.

“Yeah I was pretty frustrated [after the homer]. I felt like I made a lot of good pitches, and then you know, I leave one over the middle and it gets hit really hard. So that frustrated me. I had to refocus there, and I really was trying to focus on just making one pitch at a time and I was able to do that.”

deGrom recorded 11 strikeouts with 23 swings and misses over his six innings, making it his 60th career game with 10 or more strikeouts. The 60 games of 10+ strikeouts are tied with Rube Waddell for 15th-most by any pitcher in the Modern Era (since 1901). The only other active Major League pitchers with more career games of 10+ strikeouts are Max Scherzer (110), Chris Sale (79), Justin Verlander (72) and Clayton Kershaw (68).

He also struck out 11 without issuing a walk. It’s just the 15th such outing in club history of 11+ strikeouts and no walks, but the 16th time deGrom has logged double-digit strikeouts and no walks in his career.

As of the conclusion of the game, he led all of MLB with 43 strikeouts in just 26 2/3 innings.

“I didn't know how many strikeouts I had in the game, honestly,” deGrom said. “It's just like I said, it's one pitch at a time, trying to throw it where I want to the best of my ability. I try to minimize the thought process and see the target and try to hit it. The homer was a mistake, so then after that, I was like, ‘Okay, let's refocus and just hit the glove.’ That's what I was trying to do.”

, who provided all four of the Rangers’ RBIs via a three-run homer in the second inning and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, joked that it definitely feels OK heading into a series finale with the chance to clinch and deGrom on the mound.

And there’s belief in the Rangers' clubhouse that this isn’t even the best deGrom can be. He was delayed in Spring Training due to a left side injury, and has been limited as it pertains to pitch count in some starts. With a longer leash and the ability to go deeper into games, deGrom will no doubt be even better. 

“It’s hard to say more just because he is that good,” Bochy said. “If you look at the numbers, yeah, he’s got more in him because he is that good. He did miss a lot of time in Spring Training. You see a lot of guys come out elite pitchers as the season goes on and they get better. It’s all about trying to get better, but he’s really, really good now.”