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Jacob deGrom is off to a historic start this year

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Everyone knows deGrom is going great, but do people realize just what they’re watching so far?

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Jacob deGrom has gotten off to a superb start to the 2018 season, and his seven shutout innings last night against the Marlins was merely another notch in his belt. Last night’s outing lowered deGrom’s ERA on the season to 1.54, which is currently the lowest in the National League and the second-best in baseball, behind only Justin Verlander.

And while deGrom’s dominance isn’t exactly a secret, or even anything new, folks around the league are just now starting to take notice to exactly how hood deGrom has been this year. The Mets’ ace has a penchant for mostly flying under the radar—not that it’s necessarily a bad thing—but he can’t avoid fanfare for much longer if he keeps pitching like this.

Not only is deGrom second in baseball in ERA, but he is also second in FIP. He has the third-lowest HR/9 rate. What’s more, his K/9 of 11.88 would not only be a career-best by a significant margin for him, but it’s also fourth in baseball among starting pitchers right now, behind only Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, and Chris Sale—three pitchers who get quite a bit of attention for racking up punchouts. By fWAR, deGrom is fifth in baseball, and by bWAR, he is third, behind only Sale and Verlander. Any way you slice it, deGrom has been among the best of the best through his first 10 starts of the season, and it’s not exactly looking fluky, either.

This is probably the best version of deGrom that we’ve ever seen. His current whiff rate, chase rate, and contact rates would all be career-bests for him. His HR/FB rate is just 5.0% so far. His 2.5 fWAR on the season is already nearly halfway to his career-best mark of 5.2 in 2015. His velocity is strong and his slider and changeup look as good as they’ve ever been.

These are obviously all tremendous accolades that help paint the picture of just how tremendous deGrom has been. But even with all of that written, folks may still not be realizing exactly what we’re witnessing in the context of recent Mets pitching dominance.

Everyone knows how electrifying the start of the 2013 season was for Matt Harvey. Ask any Mets fan, and they’ll tell you that it was probably the best season of starting pitching they had seen since the likes of Tom Seaver or Dwight Gooden. Through his first nine starts of that season, Harvey had taken the league and city by storm, wound up on the cover of sports illustrated, and was an absolute star. Here’s how his stat line from around this point that season compares to deGrom so far in 2018:

deGrom ‘18 vs. Harvey ‘13

Statistic deGrom 2018 Harvey 2013
Statistic deGrom 2018 Harvey 2013
GS 10 9
IP 58.1 63.2
K% 33.3% 29.2%
BB% 6.9% 6.0%
ERA 1.54 1.55
ERA- 42 44
FIP 1.89 2.23
BABIP .301 .197
WHIP 0.99 0.72

Amazingly, deGrom’s start to 2018 is very similar to Harvey’s start to his 2013, and arguably even better. Most probably haven’t realized they’re witnessing a start to a season that tops 2013 Harvey, who finished that season with one of the best single-season pitching lines anyone has ever had for the Mets.

There’s another comp we can make as well. Of course, Noah Syndergaard’s 2016 season is still fresh in our minds. That was the year Syndergaard established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game, and like Harvey, became the talk of the town early on that year as well. Here’s how he and deGrom compare through their first 10 starts:

deGrom ‘18 vs. Syndergaard ‘16

Statistic Jacob deGrom 2018 Noah Syndergaard 2016
Statistic Jacob deGrom 2018 Noah Syndergaard 2016
GS 10 10
IP 58.1 62.2
K% 33.3% 32.6%
BB% 6.9% 3.7%
ERA 1.54 1.87
ERA- 42 47
FIP 1.89 1.73
BABIP .301 .327
WHIP 0.99 0.97

Again, deGrom is right on par. The message here is clear: deGrom right now is on a level he’s never been, and he’s rivaling recent marquee pitching seasons. Obviously, it’s still early, and there’s no guarantee he finishes with a stat line as impressive as 2013 Harvey, 2016 Syndergaard, or anywhere near Seaver or Gooden territory. But not just anyone can start a season like this, and those who do usually wind up with pretty special years. Maybe it’s time for folks to start paying more attention to exactly what deGrom is doing this year.