Jacob deGrom Back To Cy Young Form
Last year, Jacob deGrom had one of the greatest seasons we have seen any pitcher have in Major League history. He was a near unanimous choice for the National League Cy Young Award, and he was rewarded with a contract extension. When he opened the year for the Mets, it looked like he was going to pick up where he left 2018 off.
In his first two starts to the season, he did not allow one earned run over 13.0 innings pitched. He walked just two while striking out 24. Batters were hitting just .174/.208/.217. Looking at those two starts, you actually began to wonder if 2018 was him just scratching the surface and if he was about to take off and have a dominant multi-year run with multiple Cy Youngs.
Well, after those two starts, deGrom would come back to Earth. After tying Bob Gibson for the most consecutive quality starts in Major League history, he would have a rough three start stretch completely uncharacteristic for deGrom.
There were a number of reasons for the struggles. There were some rain delayed games with difficult pitching conditions. He and some other Mets players had “flu symptoms” in the middle of April. He’d land on the 10 day Injured List with elbow soreness. Since returning from the Injured List, he has been every bit the pitcher he was last season.
In nine of his 10 starts since his return from the Injured List, he has allowed two earned of fewer in nine of his 10 starts. He’s also pitched at least six innings in eight of his 10 starts while averaging nearly 6.2 innings per start. He’s struck out 69 batters over his 65.0 innings pitched while walking just 10 batters. Opposing batters are hitting just .214/.250/.350 off of him.
During this stretch, he has a 2.63 ERA lowering his season ERA from 4.85 to 3.26. As he continues pitching like this, his ERA is going to keep dropping and dropping back towards the level it was last year.
One important note over this stretch was his clunker against the Marlins where he pitched in the rain after a rain delay. In that game, he allowed seven runs (six earned) over five innings while walking nine and striking out just three batters.
If you remove that one start from this stretch of games, deGrom’s ERA drops from 2.63 to 1.95. His strikeouts per nine jump from 9.5 to 9.9 batters per nine. Overall, that looks much more like the deGrom who pitched to a 1.70 ERA last year with an 11.2 K/9.
One additional note on the rain and rain delays. From what we saw from that game against the Marlins and other games, deGrom had issues not just pitching through the rain but also through rain delays. Having been aware of those issues, deGrom altered his warmup routine heading into the game last night waiting until an hour before first pitch to get ready. The result was him completely shutting down the Braves offense over eight innings.
Looking over this stretch of games, you see a fierce competitor who is once again pitching like the best pitcher in baseball. At least, that was the Braves impression last night with Freddie Freeman calling deGrom the best pitcher in baseball.
That’s what deGrom has been since the start of the 2018 season, and seeing him in action since the beginning of May, he is that pitcher again. He should be an All Star, and if he continues pitching like this, he is once again going to be one of the top vote getters for the Cy Young. If he continues pitching like this, and he should, the Mets chances to staying in this race and actually grabbing a spot in the postseason have improved dramatically.