Jacob deGrom pitched four innings, gave up just one run and three hits, while walking one batter and striking out six, during Tuesday's 2-1 win against the Astros in Palm Beach.
DeGrom has reported no issues and says he's currently feeling strong following season-ending surgery last September to reposition the ulnar nerve in his right elbow.
"After surgery, you're curious of what you're going to be able to do," he added. "I'm happy with how things are going. The main thing is to stay healthy. I'm just happy that I feel good and I'm looking forward to starting the season."
"It's just like a video game with him," Kevin Plawecki told the New York Post. "It is like 2015, his command, the life on his pitches, his ability to spot up with anything is pretty unbelievable.''
DeGrom tossed 52 pitches Tuesday, 37 of which landed for strikes. He is expected to make two to three more Grapefruit League starts before the official start of the 2017 season.
"The ball is coming out better than it did last year and I feel like there's less effort," he said of his mechanics. "So, the big thing for me is to try to stay smooth and repeat my delivery. Today wasn't as good, but you'll have those days in spring and throughout the season, so you have to find other ways to get outs. My slider was good today and I mixed in a few curveballs."
Jake had a difficult time in the first inning Tuesday, giving up a single and walking a batter to start the game. However, what has always made deGrom so great is that he's able to adjust and regroup, which is what he did Tuesday... in a spring game with zero meaning. So, with two guys on base, he ramped up his fastball, hit 97 mph on a few occasions and struck out the the final two batters of the inning...
He has looked SO good all spring. I'm really excited to see what he does this season. Because last season was such a grind for him, it's easy to forget how amazing he was the first two years of his career. He also has a way of fading in to the background behind higher-profile pitchers on his staff that tend to grab more headlines.
In hindsight, last season may have been a blessing in disguise for deGrom, who was forced to do more with less because his elbow was constantly barking at him and screwing up his mechanics. The result, as he explained yesterday, was that he ended up having to do more in-game, real-time reading of hitters in the batter's box.
In short, he learned more about himself and about the art of pitching last season than he did when feeling strong and dominant the previous two seasons. The thing is, this season, he'll again be strong and healthy... but now also able to bring the smarts.
He's going to have a terrific season... look out National League.