Jacob deGrom won’t take anything for granted as he prepares for the biggest start of his life
On Friday night in Los Angeles, Mets ace Jacob deGrom will make the first postseason start of his young career in his second season as a major leaguer.
On a staff full of young, hard-throwing pitchers, deGrom has led the staff in 2015 with a stellar season. In 30 starts in the regular season, deGrom went 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 205 strikeouts in 191 innings pitched. Because of this success not only this season but last season as well, deGrom has earned the distinction of being recognized as the ace of this staff, as well as being given the ball to open the NLDS in Los Angeles.
“In our pitching staff, any of the guys take on Game 1,” deGrom told reporters on Thursday. “When they told me I had Game 1, I was really honored. I want to be able to go two games in this series, I was honored with that.”
Despite the Mets having an incredibly successful regular season–especially in the second half–and taking most of the baseball world by surprise, deGrom still put the onus on the fact that there is still much to be done.
“I think all of us are thankful every day we get to put this uniform on,” deGrom said. “Try not to take any days for granted. Every time you take the field give a hundred percent and leave it all out there.”
“We had that goal coming into Spring Training to make the postseason and make the World Series, so I think that’s still the goal,” deGrom went on to say. “You’ve got to play every game until it’s over. Baseball is a funny game, so you never know what’s going to happen. I think that says a lot about this team. We’ve always had a lot of come-from-behind wins, especially in the second half of the year. So we’re going to go out there and give it our best and we’re going to fight until the end.”
As he prepares to make his first career playoff start, deGrom realizes that faces a difficult task, as he will face a Dodgers team that will play in the postseason for their third consecutive season. The task is ever stiffer as his counterpart on the mound is Clayton Kershaw, who’s in the midst of yet another spectacular campaign.
“I mean, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game, if not the best,” deGrom said. “The way he takes the mound, he goes out there and attacks hitters. I think I try to do the same thing, not get intimidated by anybody who steps in the box and go out there and make your pitches when you need to.”
While the toughest task my be the opposing pitcher, deGrom’s main focus in this game will have to be on keeping Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and the rest of the Dodgers lineup at bay.
“My approach every game is to try to keep the ball down and get ground ball outs,” deGrom explained. “I think that’s going to be my main game plan going into this game. I’ll take one batter at a time and try not to think about it too much.”
For a guy on the precipice of the biggest start of his baseball life, deGrom has remained cool, collected and introspective. The hope is that he can bring that confidence and cool with him when he steps on the mound in L.A. on Friday night.