PORT ST. LUCIE — Jake deGrom’s Grapefruit League season began Sunday with 13 straight strikes against a top-heavy Nationals lineup, and his afternoon barely worsened from there.
His fastball humming in the 97-98 mph range and offspeed pitches respectable, the Mets ace fired three shutout innings in which he allowed one hit and struck out two. It came 25 days before deGrom is scheduled to throw pitches that count against these Nationals in the Mets’ season-opener at Citi Field.
DeGrom had thrown a simulated game last Tuesday, allowing him to avoid an extended ride to Lakeland, Fla., for his first spring start. Sunday it got closer to real.
“Any time I take the mound I’m nervous,” deGrom said at Clover Park. “I was nervous in the sim game. Any time you are out there competing I always seem to get nervous and it felt good to get out there and a real game feel, people in the stands, another team, so it felt good to be out there.”
DeGrom was barely tested in the first inning, needing just seven pitches to get three outs. With one out in the second, Andrew Stevenson singled to right, giving deGrom the challenge of working from the stretch and holding the base…