SAN DIEGO -- New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom did not like how far he was falling to the first-base side of the infield as he delivered pitches Thursday night. So he headed directly for a computer to watch the video of his outing as soon as he departed what became a 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
DeGrom was charged with three runs on eight hits and a walk in five innings in his first loss of the season. He’s now 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA.
“I don’t even know how many hits I gave up when I had guys with two strikes. I just couldn’t put them away -- leaving the off-speed in the middle and giving them a chance, and at times throwing it not even close to the zone,” deGrom said. “Then it goes to 3-2 and there’s a pretty good chance there’s a fastball coming there. And they end up getting a hit off that.”
DeGrom pinpointed the reason for his difficulty. He said his right elbow is considerably lower during his delivery than it was in 2015. As a result, he’s not getting on top of the baseball.
“I came in and watched some video right after I came out,” deGrom said. “It’s quite a bit lower than what it was last year. Last year my elbow was above my shoulder. This year it’s not even getting close to above it, and my stride is toward the first-base side. I don’t know if you see how far I’m falling off toward first base. There’s some things to work on there. I definitely think so. I felt good coming out. I felt good in the bullpen. I think just sometimes when I get out there I try to do too much.”
DeGrom said that unintentionally striding toward the plate a foot farther during spring training than during last season might have led to the elbow dropping and first-base-side flopping.
“Shortening that up has helped some,” deGrom said about his stride. “But the changeup is usually one of my better pitches. I’d probably say it’s my second-best pitch. And I don’t even know if I threw one for a strike tonight. I think that’s an indicator that I am flying open and not staying on top of the ball and am pushing it arm-side.”
The mechanical flaw has affected deGrom’s fastball, too.
“The two-seam, instead of having some down movement, it’s running back across the plate,” deGrom said. “So if I try to go in to a lefty, it’s running right into their barrel instead of more the down movement that I want.”
Said manager Terry Collins: “From some of the replays, I just think he got too much plate on a lot of the pitches he needed to get an out on."
DeGrom thought he could resolve the mechanical issue working between starts. He's next due to pitch at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
It’s important to resolve the issue of falling off to the first-base side for health as well as effectiveness reasons.
Said deGrom: “There at the end, when [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen] came out to the mound, he’s like, ‘I don’t care how hard you throw this ball, just try not to fall that way,’ because that puts a lot of stress on places it doesn’t need to be.”