The playoffs are underway and on Friday night there was a classic showdown between two of the best pitchers in baseball. Both were impressive but the younger ace outpitched the veteeran. Ian York takes a look at the PITCHf/x data and lets us know how deGrom dominated.
Jacob deGrom was pretty much spectacular in Game 1 of the NLDS. With 13 strikeouts over 7 scoreless innings, deGrom was clearly better than Clayton Kershaw, which isn’t something many pitchers have been able to say for a long time.
deGrom had everything working for him on Friday. His fastball velocity averaged 97.6-mph in the first inning, and was still averaging 95.8-mph in the seventh, and – even more impressively – his slider ranged from 91.6-mph in the first inning to 88.2 in the seventh:
More importantly, deGrom had superb location. When he had a moderate down patch in September, one of his problems was with location, particularly with his sinker, which he was throwing down the center of the strike zone. In this game, he was able to locate all his pitches beautifully. His four-seam fastball produced as nice a “doughnut” as you’re likely to see, staying away from the center of the strike zone:
And with few exceptions, he placed his sinker on the outside top of the zone to left-handed batters, while his changeup hit the bottom outside corner:
Between location, velocity and deception, deGrom drew a lot of foul balls and swinging strikes on the four-seam, sinker, and change, and mixed in his slider to draw called strikes:
Location is the most important part of a pitcher’s repertoire, but when you have pinpoint location of a 98-mph fastball and 90-mph slider, and can mix in a devastating sinker and change in when needed, it means you can out-duel Clayton Kershaw. If this version of deGrom is going to turn up through the playoffs, you have to like the Mets chances.