Jacob DeGrom’s debut with the Texas Rangers evokes images of Nolan, Chan Ho and Darvish
The laughing that started in Brooklyn when the Nets gave us Kyrie Irving extended to Queens on MLB’s Opening Day when the New York Mets watched their former ace make his Texas Rangers debut.
In his first game as a Ranger, Jacob DeGrom was Jacob deAwful. Jacob deBattingPracticePitcher. Jacob deOhGodNo.
You get the idea.
No matter what pitch he threw that the Phillies turned into another extra base hit, deGrom must have thought he was in heaven. Maybe Iowa.
He was just in Arlington.
After he was pulled in the fourth inning on Thursday because he came down with a case of the “hits,” he heard cheers. Claps. No boos.
Arlington ain’t NYC.
There is no reason to crucify the man yet, but we’ve got to be better than this. We have to be above cheering a pitcher who in his debut after signing a five-year, $185 million free agent contract couldn’t get out of the fourth inning.
“I’m not thrilled with how I threw the ball, obviously, but more importantly we won the game,” deGrom said after the Rangers rallied to beat the Phillies, 11-7.
In the first inning, deGrom was All-Star caliber. He struck out two of the three batters in an inning where he needed 10 pitches.
After that, it was a box of not great.
He allowed five runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He gave up a 2-run home run, a pair of triples, a double, and threw in a wild pitch, too.
He also struckout seven batters, but it’s hard to see that number, or care about that number, when the figures that matter are five runs in 3 2/3 innings.
After his last inning was complete, the Rangers trailed 5-0. His offense took him off the hook in the bottom of the fourth inning by scoring nine runs.
“You don’t see this too often,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said.
(Also not seen often, the Rangers closed the roof at Globe Life Mall during the game. That was a first.)
One game into his Rangers’ career, deGrom’s ERA is 12.27.
Ugly as it is, DeGrom’s first game with the team actually ranks among the debuts of the best, and most expensive, free agent pitchers the Rangers have ever signed.
We’re talking about Nolan Ryan. About Chan Ho Park. About Yu Darvish. About ... Kevin Millwood, and Jon Gray.
When the Rangers have gone big to sign big, sexy, pricey free agent pitchers, their respective debuts with the team have all been stinkers.
In December of 1988, Ryan signed a 1-year, $2 million contract with the Rangers; $2 million can’t buy you a bat boy these days in MLB, but in 1988 that was big money.
On April 6, 1989 the Rangers hosted the Detroit Tigers and Ryan made his debut with the franchise. In five innings, he allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits. He struckout eight, earned a no decision, and the Rangers won.
Ryan turned out to have a lot left.
Chan Ho Park
In Jan. of 2002, then Rangers owner Tom Hicks signed Park to a five-year, $65 million contract.
On April 1, 2002, Park made his debut with the team, at Oakland. He allowed six runs on nine hits, including two home runs, in five innings.
He took the loss, and it was the beginning of what was a terrible career in Texas.
Desperate for a quality starting pitcher, in Dec. of 2005 Hicks signed yet another Scott Boras client in Millwood to a five-year, $60 million deal.
On April 3, 2006, Millwood’s Texas debut went like this: 5 innings, 7 hits, 5 runs, all earned, 1 home run, loss.
Millwood lasted four seasons with the club, and he was mostly decent.
In Jan. of 2012, then Rangers GM Jon Daniels bagged coveted Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish by signing him to a six-year, $60 million deal. The Rangers won the rights to negotiate with Darvish thanks to a $51.7 million posting fee to his team in Japan.
On April 9, 2012, Darvish made his Rangers debut.
Against the Mariners, Darvish lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowed eight hits, five runs, all earned, walked four, struckout five and he hit one batter. The Rangers won, and so did Darvish.
Darvish was an All-Star pitcher for the Rangers for five seasons, and somehow he always left you wanting a touch more. Because it was in there.
In Nov. of 2021, the Rangers signed Gray to a four-year contract with $56 million.
On April 8, 2022, Gray made his debut with the club. He pitched four innings, allowed three runs, all earned, walked two, struckout four, and did not earn a decision in an 10-8 loss to Toronto.
Jacob deGrom’s first game as a Ranger wasn’t ideal.
Neither was Nolan Ryan’s.
(Or Chan Ho Park’s.)