PORT ST. LUCIE – Twice was nice, but Jacob deGrom has already won the second consecutive Cy Young Award in the National League and is planning a course for 3rd place.
The Mets ace has become aware of history. There are Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, who have each won four Cy Young awards in a row, but beyond this Hall of Fame pair, there is no other pitcher who has won up to three in a row.
"Every time you are in top form personally, you will help the team," said deGrom on Wednesday after the Mets' first official training this spring for pitcher and catcher. “They have set personal goals and I've set them for myself in recent years, and that's definitely another personal goal of mine. Most of all, it's a team game and I want to win a World Series, but every time you are at your best, help the team. "
DeGrom went in with 2.43 ERA 11-8 and led the NL with 255 swings last season when he was only the second Mets pitcher to win several Cy Young prizes. Tom Seaver won the award three times for the Mets in his Hall of Fame career.
The added thrill for deGrom this time was the award from Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who handed the badge to the right-hander at the New York Baseball Writers & # 39; Association of America's dinner last month.
"When I saw [Martinez.] I actually thanked him for telling me a few things about the All Star game, ”said deGrom. “He noticed that I was more frustrated on the hill than in previous years and said, 'Hey, calm down out there and just have fun. & # 39; I think that helped and I laughed when I saw him and found out that it was he who gave me the award. I thanked him for it because I feel that it helped. I was frustrated not to take one seat at a time. "
DeGrom collapsed earlier in the season and one theory was that he might have tilted his pitches. During a stretch of three starts in April against the Twins, Braves and Brewers, he reached an ERA of 9.69 and did not survive the fifth inning.
After further analysis, including a conversation with new pitching trainer Jeremy Hefner (he worked for the Twins as their deputy pitching trainer last season), deGrom said it was his belief that he didn't give any pitching tips.
"[Minnesota] was the first team to start the three-game track and [Hefner] said they had nothing on me, ”said deGrom. "I said I didn't think they were doing it because when I watched the video everything looked the same to me. My mistakes were just above the center of the plate.
“As far as my pitch is concerned, I feel like when boys face me they want to jump on something early, and early mistakes in the middle of the plate are what they hit. They were not well-executed pitches. "
Part of the poor execution, according to deGrom, could be due to the pressure to try to be perfect after his first Cy Young Award and subsequent five-year contract extension worth $ 137.5 million.
DeGrom will now promote a third manager in four seasons, with Luis Rojas leading the activities. It won't be their first interaction in roles like this: Rojas led deGrom at Single-A Savannah in 2012.
"I know it will go well," said Rojas. "There will be challenges because we may not agree, because it goes through the season, but we are considering what is best for the player."
DeGrom’s goal is that the next eight months lead to an unforgettable October.
"I feel like we've had high expectations since we made it to the 2015 World Series," said deGrom. "I'm definitely excited this year too. I think we have a great group of people.
“I think our lineup is really good with a really good start pitching and the bullpen looks very good too. I am definitely looking forward to starting the year and I think the expectations are the same as before and everyone is moving in the same direction and want to win a World Series, that is the goal. "