Jacob deGrom was brought in to be the Rangers’ ace as Texas signed him to a five-year, $185 million contract in the offseason. When the Rangers began their 2023 season Thursday against the Phillies, an old rival of deGrom’s from his Mets days, he was handed the ball.
The start didn’t go so well. DeGrom was shelled early and forced to leave after 3 2/3 innings. After the runners he was responsible for were taken into account, deGrom was charged with five runs (all earned) on six hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.
MORE: Follow MLB Opening Day action here
There was a lot to like about deGrom’s outing. He still showed impressive stuff, racking up 10 swings and misses, throwing two pitches that topped 100 mph, and averaging 98.5 mph on his fastball. His slider even had a higher spin rate than his average over the past year.
But giving up five-extra base hits (two doubles, two triples and a home run) and plenty of hard contact was not ideal. And that home run was a historic one: it was the first time a right-handed hitter had gone deep on an elevated 99 mph fastball from him.
Alec Bohm takes Jacob deGrom’s 99 mph elevated fastball out of the yard.
Bohm is just the third batter to hit deGroms 99+ mph elevated fastball for a home run.
The other two are Jazz Chisholm and Andrew Stevenson.#RingTheBell | #OpeningDay pic.twitter.com/9AgEDlZCXY
— Inside Edge (@IE_MLB) March 30, 2023
Just how bad was deGrom’s start? Here’s what you need to know:
Jacob deGrom stats
This was the fourth time deGrom has taken the hill for Opening Day, and his previous three with the Mets were nothing shy of dominant.
Based on the numbers from those three outings, this year stands out as a clear exception:
Yes, Thursday’s outing was the first time deGrom had allowed any runners to cross the plate — earned or otherwise — on Opening Day.
MORE: How Pete Alonso caused a pitch-clock violation against teammate Jeff McNeil
It was also a rare rough outing for deGrom against the Phillies. In his career against Philadelphia, deGrom has a 2.18 ERA in 20 starts and 120 innings with 136 strikeouts, 27 walks and only seven home runs allowed.
His 2023 Opening Day start wasn’t his worst outing against the Phillies, but it was close. He has twice given up six earned runs to them. The first time was Aug. 24, 2015, when he gave up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. The next came on Sept. 5, 2017, when he allowed nine runs (six earned) on 10 hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
MORE: The Sporting News experts pick division winners, awards, World Series champ
In every other start against the Phillies, deGrom has allowed three or fewer earned runs.
In his career, deGrom has only had six outings in which he lasted 3 2/3 innings or fewer, per Stathead. In half those outings, he left early because of an injury. The other three outings, he allowed earned run totals of five, six and six. The two six-run outings were the two against the Phillies and the five-run outing came against the Marlins.
In the end, Texas’ bats bailed out deGrom and gave the Rangers an 11-7 win.
DeGrom will have a chance to turn things around when the Rangers take on the Orioles in their next series, with his start due either April 4 or April 5. He has a 1.23 ERA in two starts against the Orioles, both of which resulted in Mets wins.