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Feeling 'smooth,' deGrom debuts in fine form

Coming off 2016 surgery, starter fans three in two frames
Special to MLB.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It may have been his first outing of Spring Training, but Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom looked to be in midseason form on Saturday, making short work of the Astros over his two-inning stint in the Mets' 3-1 win at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

In retiring all six batters he faced, striking out three, deGrom needed just 26 pitches, throwing 19 for strikes.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It may have been his first outing of Spring Training, but Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom looked to be in midseason form on Saturday, making short work of the Astros over his two-inning stint in the Mets' 3-1 win at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

In retiring all six batters he faced, striking out three, deGrom needed just 26 pitches, throwing 19 for strikes.

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"It's a step in the right direction," deGrom said. "It's one thing to say you feel good in spring, but then to go out and actually throw, it definitely feels good to get back out there. I feel like the ball is coming out of my hand a lot better. That goes back to mechanics."

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deGrom worked a flawless first inning, and his fastball clocked in the mid-90s with a top speed of 96 mph. In wasting little time to retire the first two batters he faced, deGrom got an easy grounder to first and a strikeout before battling back from a 3-0 count to get Jose Altuve to pop out.

Opening the second inning even stronger, deGrom struck out Carlos Correa on four pitches. All were blazing fastballs, with none clocked below 96 mph. After retiring Carlos Beltran on a fly ball to right field, into a strong South Florida breeze, deGrom struck out Yulieski Gurriel with a 96-mph fastball to end the inning and his spring debut.

Tweet from @Mets: After a strong first spring outing, @JdeGrom19 said it felt good to be back out on the mound. #Mets pic.twitter.com/44o3vaDeYR

"Last year, it was all I had to get to 92, I feel like," deGrom said. "But I think it has to do with mechanics and being back in line where I need to be. Last year, I flew open all the time, and my arm was really dragging.

"Now I'm staying on top of the ball and get more of a down angle to it."

Getting back to mechanics was the goal for deGrom in his first outing this spring.

"Getting back to where I was smooth," deGrom said. "Last year, I was fighting myself and wasn't really staying behind the ball as much as I have in the past. Today, I think I did a good job with my mechanics.

"I was definitely pleased. The only thing I'm not pleased with was a changeup in the dirt. Everything else, I pretty much threw where I wanted to."

He did not pitch after Sept. 1 this past season, and he had surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his right elbow on Sept. 21. Coming off a 7-8 season with a 3.04 ERA over 148 innings of work, deGrom recorded nearly a strikeout per inning (143).

"First outing off surgery, really, and things went the right way, I feel like," deGrom said.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Mets on Saturday.

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom