In his time with the Mets, Jacob deGrom has never been named the Opening Day starter. Those around him seem to steal the spotlight, but when the season comes to an end, deGrom’s body of work speaks for itself.
deGrom was the unquestioned ace of this staff in a season, partly by default, but even if all the starters remained healthy, the lanky righty ranked among the best in the league. He reached the 200-inning plateau and ended the season with a 15-10 record. He finished 10th in the league in ERA and was second in total strikeouts behind only Max Scherzer.
In fact, he notched eleven double-digit strikeout games, and he added his name to a bit of Mets history by picking up over 200 strikeouts. He joined Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, and David Cone as the only Mets to have multiple 200-strikeout seasons, and his 239 total placed him ninth in Mets’ history for most strikeouts in a single season. His 2017 10.68 K/9 rate ranks second on the Mets’ leaderboard behind Dwight Gooden’s mark of 11.39 K/9 in 1984.
Velocity was a concern for deGrom throughout the 2016 season, but he had no such issues this year, which could be a reason for high strikeout rates. In fact, he finished the season on an upswing in velocity which is promising for the team going forward.
In a pretty dismal season overall for the team, deGrom offered one of the highlights of the season when he won eight-straight games in June and July. Over the course of that stretch he defeated both the Cubs and Nationals, which netted him Player of the Week honors. The win over the Nationals was particularly memorable since he hit his first major league home run on Father’s Day.
Of course it wasn’t all smooth sailing this season. Frustration seemed to boil over toward the end of the season when he was visibly annoyed with Amed Rosario for not throwing out Dee Gordon on a ground ball. Afterward he owned up to his mistake, as did Amed Rosario, and that is as far as the issue went.
As far as his pitching goes, there were some hiccups as well. deGrom’s walk rate and home run rate both spiked to the highest totals for his career, and he suffered two of the worst losses of his career in back-to-back starts against the Brewers and Rangers. After those two losses, however, he took it upon himself to reach out to John Smoltz to learn more about throwing two light bullpens in between starts instead of just one long session. The results were improved mechanics and he went on the eight-game winning streak that defined his season.
deGrom’s performance had the Astros sniffing around at the trade deadline, but Sandy Alderson refused to put his top pitcher on the market. Trading deGrom would certainly get the Mets a nice haul, but it would signal another rebuild and that doesn’t seem to be the direction the general manager wants to go in. The Mets are at least considering a contract extension for the ace, and if they truly intend to compete next season and beyond, then they should absolutely reward the only starter to survive the entire season.