Tomorrow night in Cincinnati, Jacob deGrom will be the lone New York Mets representative at the mid-summer classic. Not only has he been the best Mets pitcher this season, but his numbers are up there with the best pitchers in the National League in 2015. His 2.14 ERA ranks fourth among qualified NL starters, behind only All-Stars Zack Greinke, A.J. Burnett, and Max Scherzer. It's not like deGrom suddenly exploded onto the scene just this year, either. He posted stellar numbers in his rookie campaign as well. His 2.69 ERA in 22 starts last year ranked second for NL rookie pitchers with at least ten starts. deGrom has been able to match the level of dominant pitchers in today's game, but how has he fared when compared to Met pitching legends of the past?
Tom Seaver: Through 39 career starts, deGrom has posted a lower ERA and more strikeouts than Seaver did through the same number of games. However, this is not to say that deGrom has been better in the slightest. Seaver pitched 37.2 more innings, often going beyond nine innings. In Seaver's second season, he amazingly pitched into the ninth frame and beyond eleven times in his first seventeen starts of the season. Meanwhile, deGrom has yet to accomplish that feat even once through his first seventeen starts this season. It must be taken into account that relievers were not as common during Seaver's era as they are today, but the ability of Seaver to constantly pitch late into ballgames is remarkable nonetheless. The bottom line is, it is way too early to start comparing deGrom to one of the best righties to ever pitch in a major league game. deGrom has certainly had a nice start to his young career, but we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves this early.
Doc Gooden: One of the best young pitchers the Mets have ever had, Doc Gooden was a sight to see every fifth day. His numbers through his first 39 career starts are just jaw-dropping. Ten complete games, including five shutouts. 333 strikeouts! Rookie of the Year winner, followed by a Cy Young Award the next season. deGrom comes nowhere near matching the start that Gooden posted, but as Gooden showed us, such dominance early in one's career can be extremely misleading. Gooden's production severely declined over the following few seasons, and he did not even make an All-Star team past his fifth season. He spent the last several years of his pro career floating around three different organizations, already a bust by that point. If deGrom can stay healthy (and that's a big "if", especially given the Mets' unlucky history in recent years with injuries to their top pitchers), he will have no problem exceeding Gooden's production past his arbitration and free agency years.
Matt Harvey: Perhaps the most accurate comparison for Jacob deGrom through his first 39 career starts is another current Mets righty, Matt Harvey. Although "The Dark Knight" missed all of last season following Tommy John Surgery, he has mostly returned to his former self, which included being named the starting pitcher of the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field. Through 39 career starts, deGrom has a mere 0.02 advantage over Harvey in ERA. In addition, Harvey pitched 29 more strikeouts in a minuscule 1.2 more innings than deGrom. There are dozens of more advance statistics that can be analyzed, but even these basic few stats show that deGrom is on a similar path as his teammate Harvey. Good news, right? Well, as long as it doesn't include deGrom going under the knife again like Harvey unfortunately did following his dominant 2013 season. If all goes well, though, the Mets will have one of the best starting rotations for the next several seasons, and at the helm will be deGrom and Harvey.