PORT ST. LUCIE â€” Jacob deGrom has been living with expectations all winter, and he loves it. Right around Opening Day, deGrom will become a dad. He and his wife, Stacey, are expecting their first child, a son, in April. So the expectations on the field for the Mets are nothing he canâ€™t handle.
Tuesday, very matter-of-factly, deGrom said he anticipates the Mets to return to the World Series â€” and win it this time.
â€œI definitely think there is a little more expectation. I think we expect to make it back to the World Series and win it this time,â€ deGrom said at the Mets spring training complex. â€Thatâ€™s everybodyâ€™s goal here. Last year we said it was the same thing, but I think more people outside the locker room expect it.â€
The only difference in those expectations this season compared to the bold talk of the playoffs in 2015 is that no one is laughing at the Mets this time. DeGrom expects the rest of the National League to be gunning to knock off the defending NL champs.
And he seems to like that change.
â€œI think weâ€™ll be the team to beat,â€ deGrom said. â€œWe have a great pitching staff. We made some nice additions to the field and we have David (Wright) back healthy and Travis dâ€™Arnaud is back (and) will be here hopefully the whole year, because he was injured a lot last year. I think teams are going to be after us.â€
And deGrom cannot wait for the chance to begin defending that title. While he spent most of the offseason getting ready for the addition to his family, there were times when he would start thinking back to his last start of 2015, his only appearance in the World Series.
DeGrom had gone 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA, striking out 205 in 191 regular-season innings. He also had been brilliant in the playoffs until he allowed four earned runs on six hits and three walks in a Game 2 loss to the Royals.
â€œIâ€™ve definitely thought about it,â€ deGrom said after throwing off the bullpen mound. â€œThat fifth inning wasnâ€™t too good. There has been definitely some looking back on that and kind of seeing where I went wrong there. At times it definitely popped in my mind (this winter) and I want a chance to get back there and redeem myself.â€
Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom expects to be back on the mound in the World Series again this year.Â
DeGrom, 27, said he has not watched his World Series start and does not plan to. He arrived in Port St. Lucie early this month to start throwing off the mound, eager to push that memory out of his mind. He was ready to look at that game as just a lesson learned.
â€œI am sure there are a lot of pitches I wish I could have back,â€ he said. â€œThe thing is to try not to dwell on it too much. I think the reason thatâ€™s so fresh in my mind because it was my last start, probably the biggest game of my life. So I definitely think about it a little bit, but once the season starts, it will be out of my head and (Iâ€™ll be) onto a new goal.â€
The Metsâ€™ goal with deGrom and all of their young, hard-throwing starters is to keep them healthy and primed for another run to the World Series. There is obviously concern about how the starters will bounce back from their heavy workload last season, and about the Metsâ€™ plan to ease them through spring training and into the season.
DeGrom, who threw 216 innings in 2015 (playoffs included) and was unhappy with the decision to skip him late in the regular season, said his arm and body felt great almost immediately after the Royals eliminated the Mets in five games.
â€œHonestly I felt good. I was hoping I would get a start there in Game 6, unfortunately I didnâ€™t,â€ said deGrom, who overcame Tommy John surgery early in his career. â€œEven when the season was over, I felt good. There were no different aches and pains than the year before. I donâ€™t think anything was any different.â€
Physically, deGrom may not feel any different, but with a child on the way and some considering the Mets the team to beat in the National League, everything around him is going to be a little different in 2016.
And deGrom is embracing it.
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