PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mets starter Jacob deGrom has more important things on his mind than the length of his hair, which is decidedly shorter this year.
Embarking on his fifth season with the Mets, the 29-year-old righthander is setting his sights on a second consecutive 200-inning season, winning the World Series and capturing the Cy Young Award. There’s also the birth of his second child with his wife, Stacey, who is expecting a daughter sometime next week.
DeGrom, Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman threw their first 25-pitch bullpen sessions in 79-degree sunshine Thursday morning at the Mets’ spring training facility.
DeGrom said adding a Cy Young Award to his 2014 National League Rookie of the Year trophy is his individual goal for this season. Fifth in the National League last year in innings pitched, deGrom topped 200 innings for the first time. His consistency earned him a healthy raise, from $4.05 million in 2017 to $7.4 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility.
“That’s a lot of innings,” deGrom said. “The main thing is staying healthy on the field and taking the ball every fifth day. That’s what hurt us last year; guys weren’t able to do that. We get our guys healthy and back out there, I like our chances.”
Reliever Jerry Blevins and deGrom were the only pitchers who stayed on the Mets’ 25-man active roster all season.
“Sometimes it’s out of your control, but I was fortunate to get to that 200-innings mark last year,” said deGrom, who was eighth in voting for the 2017 NL Cy Young Award. “I kind of know what it takes now, when to do more and when to do less. I’ve got a routine now I’m going to stick to.”
He lamented three bad starts last year, two of them back-to-back in late May and early June and another in September, in which he allowed 21 runs, 28 hits and eight walks in 11 2⁄3 innings. Without those starts, deGrom’s season ERA would have dropped from 3.53 to 2.75 and his WHIP would have fallen from 1.19 to 1.01.
Max Scherzer, who won his second consecutive and third career Cy Young Award, had a 2.51 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.
“Those were situations where I got frustrated and tried to do too much,” deGrom said. “I’ll just learn from that and take that out there this year. If I don’t have good stuff, maybe slow it down a little bit and make some adjustments on the hitter.”
DeGrom did not give a reason for having his hair cut last October, shortly after the season ended.
On Wednesday, Noah Syndergaard said he had no plans to cut his flowing locks, saying, “It would be like Samson. I’d lose my power.”
Noting that he has no such concerns, deGrom said he has been surprised by the attention his haircut has drawn.
Seth Lugo, Steven Matz and Jeurys Familia arrived in camp Thursday, joining Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud as early arrivals before pitchers and catchers must report on Monday. Infielder Wilmer Flores and outfielders Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo also are participating in drills and batting practice with at least a dozen minor-leaguers.
Familia was among the Mets pitchers whose season was derailed by injury. After serving a 15-game suspension at the start of last season for violating MLB’s domestic-violence policy, he missed 3 1⁄2 months after undergoing surgery to remove an arterial clot in his right shoulder.
After converting 94 of 104 save opportunities and averaging 77 appearances in the previous two seasons, Familia was limited to 26 appearances and converted six of seven save chances last year.
In his final year before he is eligible for free agency, Familia accepted the Mets’ offer of $7.925 million for 2018.
Familia said he has no problem with new manager Mickey Callaway’s plans to use a matchup approach rather than have a designated closer now that the bullpen has been fortified by two more righthanders: AJ Ramos, a late-season acquisition from the Marlins, and free-agent signee Anthony Swarzak.
“He came from Cleveland, and they had a good year over there, and it’s worked,” Familia said of Callaway, who called a few times during the offseason. “For me, I always say he’s the manager. I’m going to do my job when I get the ball, try to win the game and enjoy the game.”
Wheeler wins arbitration case. Zack Wheeler beat the Mets in salary arbitration. The 27-year-old righthander will get a raise from $800,000 to $1.9 million; the Mets had offered $1.5 million. Wheeler went 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA in 17 starts. He was sidelined by biceps tendinitis in June, went 0-2 in four starts in which he allowed 24 hits and 11 walks in 20 innings, then went on the disabled list for the rest of the season with what the team said was a stress reaction in his right arm. — AP
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