In late July, New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom had a bizarre rehab start in Triple-A Syracuse where he got roughed up by minor leaguers after previously looking completely unhittable against the best hitters in the world. After watching video from the start, it appeared that deGrom was experimenting with dialing back his mechanics.
deGrom returned to his all-world self once he resumed pitching in the big leagues in August, but one thing from that Syracuse rehab start has stuck: deGrom’s mechanics are dialed back a tick in 2022, and it looks like his way of attempting to stay healthy as the Mets charge toward the postseason and deGrom heads into an offseason where he can become a free agent.
There were signs from early this spring that tweaks could be coming to deGrom’s delivery after deGrom missed the entire second half of 2021 with various injuries. In April, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reported that the Mets and deGrom would “look to minimize the aggressive nature of his motion”.
deGrom attempting to reduce the strain on his body by dialing back the aggressiveness of his motion has shown up in his extension off the mound. Specifically, deGrom’s stride length is not quite as long and explosive as it has been in past seasons. deGrom was known for having huge extension off the mound, which allowed him to release the ball closer to the batter than most pitchers. deGrom would let his long body cascade downhill to gain momentum, where he would use all of his lengthy frame to release the baseball as close to home plate as possible. This would allow his velocity to play up faster in terms of hitter perception, because the hitter would have less time to react due to deGrom releasing the ball closer to home plate than most pitchers.
According to the league’s player tracking system, which measures how far off the mound a pitcher releases the pitch, deGrom’s release extension ranked in the 93rd percentile of all MLB pitchers in 2021, and his release extension ranked no less than the 92nd percentile in any of deGrom’s previous seasons tracked by Statcast, which dates back to 2015. You can see a full-speed side view of deGrom’s 2021 delivery in the video below:
Jacob deGrom is back on the bump today.— MLB (@MLB) June 26, 2021
Drop your predictions! ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/3QNqUy5flw
This season, deGrom’s release extension has fallen to the 83rd percentile, easily the lowest mark of his career. deGrom ranks 133rd in average extension among all pitchers in 2022 after ranking 55th in 2021. By feet, deGrom’s average release extension has dipped from a nice 6.9 feet in 2021 to 6.7 feet in 2022. The league average pitcher gets roughly 6.3 feet of extension off the mound.
deGrom’s reduced extension has also shown up in his perceived velocity stats. In 2021, deGrom’s fastball played up by about 1.1 mph in terms of hitter perception based on release extension. In 2022, that number has ticked down to 0.7 mph due to releasing the ball a little further from home plate than past seasons.
deGrom dialing back his extension a tick has not negatively impacted his performance. In fact, deGrom has looked better than ever at times this season, most notably in his second start where he took a perfect game into the 6th inning and generated an obscene 18 swinging strikes on his slider on just 33 sliders thrown.
Jacob deGrom struck out four straight batters across the 1st and 2nd innings pic.twitter.com/rPERqHG8Te— SNY (@SNYtv) August 7, 2022
deGrom dialing back the aggressiveness of his delivery has also not resulted in reduced pitch velocity. deGrom’s average fastball velocity is sitting at 99.3 mph this season, the highest of his career, and he’s been clocked as high as 101.6 mph:
deGrom with the fastest pitch of his career at 101.6 MPH pic.twitter.com/meDOKuWbtK— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) August 7, 2022
deGrom’s health is obviously critically important for the Mets’ World Series chances. Along with Max Scherzer, a healthy deGrom would give the Mets a lethal 1-2 starting pitching duo that would be incredibly difficult to beat in a playoff series. The Mets rank third in World Series Winner odds at +475 on DraftKings Sportsbook, behind only the Dodgers (+350) and Astros (+425). With the ability to piggyback deGrom with super reliever Edwin Diaz, playoff opponents could be in for a full nine innings of unhittable 100 mph fastballs and 93 mph sliders in games that deGrom starts.
A DraftKings Sportsbook bettor recently banked on a healthy deGrom peaking heading into the postseason. The bettor placed a $500 futures bet on the Mets to win the World Series at +475 odds, which would pay out $2,875.00 if the Mets won the title.
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