PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — With Opening Day three weeks from Thursday and Jacob deGrom on the mound for his second spring training start, Mets manager Luis Rojas threw out the ‘A’ lineup against the Astros at West Palm Beach.
It turned out deGrom hardly needed any fielders behind him at all. Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil both called it "boring" to play behind deGrom.
DeGrom was in midseason form, pitching three perfect innings and striking out seven of the nine batters he faced in the Mets’ 1-0 victory. The Astros lineup featured no regulars other than catcher Martin Maldonado. Not that it probably would have mattered who was in the batter’s box the way deGrom was firing the ball.
"I feel ready to go," deGrom said.
DeGrom’s first pitch was clocked at 100 miles per hour and he hit 101 later in the inning as he struck out the last two batters. He went on to strike out the side in the second, giving him five in a row, and then the final two in the third after Robel Garcia managed to ground out to Alonso.
Then deGrom was out after 35 pitches. It was a blur.
"You don’t want to overdo it," deGrom said. "You have to build up and coming into the night I knew I had three innings. Once you get there, that’s it . . . If it was a regular season game and I felt that good and I came out in three, I’d be a little upset. But not in spring."
Of course, the Mets did not score when deGrom was in the game as Houston’s Zack Greinke also threw three shutout innings. Alonso hit his second home run of the spring in the sixth for the game’s only run.
Mets pitchers combined to strike out 17 in a one-hit shutout on pitching coach Jeremy Hefner’s 35th birthday.
Mike Montgomery replaced deGrom and struck out the side in the fourth. Jacob Barnes struck out the side in the sixth.
The lone Houston hit was a single by Taylor Jones leading off the fifth. DeGrom has three starts left before the April 1 season opener. He said he only threw fastballs and sliders and will break out his changeup later in spring training.
"The main goal today was to try and locate and then pitch off of my fastball and pretty much use my slider," deGrom said. "That’s pretty much what we did today."
As for the lineup, Rojas said he wasn’t trying to provide a batting order preview for the opener against Max Scherzer and the Nationals. He just wanted to take advantage of a rare spring training night game to get his top players some reps under the lights.
The Mets have another night game on Saturday and then one more on March 26. Most baseball people loathe spring training night games. Rojas said he’d like to see more of them to prepare for the season and give his staff more time to work with players during the day.
Other than Dom Smith as the designated hitter, Albert Almora Jr. in center and Brandon Nimmo in left, the lineup sure looked like a 2021 preview: Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto, Alonso, Smith, McNeil, J.D. Davis, James McCann and Almora.
All Rojas would commit to is that Nimmo and Lindor will probably be 1-2 in the regular season order. As of now, there will be no DH in the NL in 2021.
Carlos Carrasco (sore elbow) is hoping to play catch on Sunday, Rojas said. Carrasco has been shut down since throwing a live batting practice session on Monday, putting his spot on the Opening Day roster in jeopardy. Rojas said Carrasco was feeling better after suffering body aches following his second COVID-19 vaccine.