Legitimate right-handed ace Jacob deGrom takes the hill in Game 2 tonight vs. the Royals. Don't let the hair fool you - deGrom throws all business. Despite this being only his second season in MLB, deGrom is already 27 years old. Some injury stuff led his minor league development to be a bit jilted, but deGrom made his debut in mid-May of last year.
Interestingly, deGrom has a career 26.5 percent strikeout rate, which is really good of course. However, deGrom never had a strikeout rate that high in the minors except for a two-start stint in High A in 2013. In addition to the high strikeout rate, deGrom cut his walk rate this year down to something of which Bartolo Colon would be proud. What this has led to is a 2.52 ERA / 2.70 FIP / 2.92 xFIP line in 2015 to go with 5.2 fWAR.
In terms of batted ball rates, deGrom is really not that far from the norm in anything. Line drives, ground balls, fly balls, and popups (by FanGraphs data) are all right around league average. deGrom's soft / medium / hard - hit rates for his career are right around league average, but he was better than league average in 2015. What deGrom does well in terms of batted balls is limit the dinger - his career 8.1 HR/FB rate sits nicely below league average. What this says to me is that deGrom's superb strikeout and walk rates are the primary reasons for his success. Contact control isn't a huge part of the equation, though some homer-suppressing talent helps.
The Royals can deal with that. They're hard to strike out, don't care that much about home runs, and don't walk much anyway.
Like the other Mets starters, deGrom throws heat. His average four-seam fastball velocity in 2015 according to Brooks Baseball was 95.8 mph, and his sinker is just slightly below that. His slider (90.4 mph) is thrown harder than Chris Young's fastball. Heck, his changeup at 86.2 mph is still rather like a Chris Young fastball. deGrom also throws a curveball but doesn't use it as much (9.7 percent usage rate).
Looking at deGrom's usage rates, he doesn't show very strong trends across counts. Against righties, he'll use the slider a bit more and the changeup a bit less than against lefties, but he can throw any pitch in any count. His sinker's whiff rate at 8.8 percent is the lowest whiff rate pitch he has - every other pitch has double-digit whiff rates, but the changeup is his best whiff pitch. It's also the pitch that's hardest to square up and make solid contact against.
In terms of location, his fastball comes in high and away regardless of lefty or righty. deGrom puts his sinker on the outside corner against lefties but tries to jam righties inside. He'll bury his slider low and away against righties but tends to stay just low in general against lefties. He'll try to keep the curve under the zone and slightly away to each handed hitter. He'll bury the changeup low and away to lefties and low and in to righties.
Naturally, he has never faced the Royals, so there's not much to say there. Overall, the strategy is likely not too different from Harvey or Syndergaard - just hit the pitch you like. That's what the Royals do.