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Jacob deGrom’s stellar season: Start #27

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Unrelentingly brilliant.

New York Mets v Chicago Cubs Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Just like his previous start, Jacob deGrom pitched on a day where his two closest competitors in the Cy Young race squared off against each other. For Aaron Nola it was more of the same, but Max Scherzer was not at his sharpest. He lasted only five innings, gave up three runs, and struck out five.

Whether deGrom was aware of what was happening at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia is unclear, but he came out firing at Wrigley Field against the high-powered Chicago offense. His fastball was not at its sharpest in his previous start against the Giants, but against the Cubs it was outstanding. He struck out MVP candidate Javier Baez on three pitches and strike three became the fastest pitch of his career. It registered as 100 MPH on the radar gun and blew right by Baez.

The Mets’ ace tried to do it all since the offense was stymied once again, this time by Cole Hamels. He picked up two hits, drove in the Mets’ only run, and made a couple of nice defensive plays in the field. There was a bit of a scare when he slipped attempting to field a ball and came up limping. He completed the inning and didn’t seem worse for the wear the rest of the game.

deGrom gave up one earned run, which was a bit unlucky since Jay Bruce could not field a ball at first that eventually led to the Chicago run. Even with the one run and no decision in the eventual Met loss, it was still a brilliant outing. He pitched eight innings, picked up another ten strikeouts, walked one, and shrunk his ERA to 1.68. This start also put him in the record books since it was his twenty-fourth straight start where he allowed three earned runs or fewer which ties him him Dwight Gooden for the major league record.

This last start finished off a dominant August for deGrom. In six starts he had a 1.24 ERA and struck out 60 in 43.2 innings. He walked nine and gave up one home run the entire month. His opponents were Atlanta, Cincinnati, the Yankees, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and the Cubs.

After his latest outing deGrom still leads the league in ERA, HR/9, ERA+, FIP, and fWAR. His HR/9 now stands at 0.396, his ERA+ is 218, and FIP currently stands at 2.02. Scherzer leads in WHIP, K/9, strikeouts, and innings pitched, and despite having a subpar outing against the Cubs, Nola is still the current leader in bWAR.

deGrom vs. the NL Cy Young Field

Pitcher IP ERA K BB WHIP bWAR
Pitcher IP ERA K BB WHIP bWAR
Jacob deGrom 182 1.68 224 41 0.978 8.1
Max Scherzer 186.2 2.22 249 45 0.884 8.8
Aaron Nola 181.2 2.23 188 49 0.974 8.9

And then there is this:

So as the season enters the home stretch is the Cy Young deGrom’s to lose? There are still some questions that arise when comparing his seasons to the others’ so let’s see if the arguments are valid or not.

Scherzer is the reigning Cy Young winner it should be his to lose. That was true in April but that is no longer the case. That’s like saying since Jacob deGrom won the Rookie of the Year in 2014 he should have the edge over Nola since he doesn’t have any hardware to his name. While Scherzer is having an incredible season and may end up topping some of his numbers from past years, the 2018 Cy Young is for the 2018 season. Scherzer is not competing against himself he is competing against the other pitchers in the National League.

The Mets are a non-competitive team and have been out of it for awhile. deGrom’s starts don’t mean as much. If anything this should be a point in deGrom’s favor. Despite all the frustration and dysfunction of the season, not once has deGrom taken a start off. He brings his best every single start and does not have the luxury of facing the Mets like the others do. Nola is 3-0 in four games against the Mets and has a 1.44 ERA against them. Scherzer faced them once and is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA against them this year.

And then there is this:

But wins! The win statistic is quickly becoming an obsolete stat with the reliance on bullpens and the emergence of advanced stats that help find the true value of a pitcher to his team. The win is more of a team statistic instead of a reflection of the pitcher’s performance. As Madison Bumgarner pointed out in his defense of Jacob deGrom’s record, a pitcher can lose a game by himself but he usually can’t win it. deGrom has done whatever he can to help his team get a win but oftentimes it just isn’t enough. For the month of August he gave up six earned runs and drove in three with his bat. His record was 3-2.

Scherzer is on a team that has underperformed all season and yet he still manages to get the win. Scherzer this season has been blessed with an average of 5.28 runs in the games he has started. Nola has been a little less lucky and has received an average of 4.09 runs in his starts, but deGrom tops them all with only 3.49 runs of support in his starts this season.

The Mets are also one of the worst offensive teams at home. Collectively they are just batting .214/.288/.344 with a .632 OPS at Citi this year whereas on the road they are hitting .254/.332/.427 with a .759 OPS. In 14 games at home deGrom is 3-5 with a 1.59 ERA, and in 13 games on the road, where the Mets do better offensively, deGrom is 5-3 with a 1.78 ERA.

As for Scherzer he has pitched 15 games at home and has a record of 8-3 and a ERA of 2.37. His ERA away from the nation’s capitol is 2.04 and has the same exact record in 13 starts.

The Nationals as a team are hitting .265/.341/.437 with a .777 OPS at home and .239/.316/.395 with a .710 OPS on the road. Scherzer is a fantastic pitcher and has generally been backed up by his team’s offense, especially at home. deGrom has not had that luxury pretty much all season.

The Phillies’ defense is one of the worst in the league and Nola has to work around that. This is very true but the Mets’ defense is not that spectacular either. Nola has certainly been bitten by his defense but has given up just one unearned run all season and that came in his last start against Scherzer at home. deGrom has given up seven unearned runs this season but the difference is the Philadelphia offense is better equipped to back Nola up than the Mets’ offense is to back up deGrom. However, the truth of the matter is both of these pitchers have to deal with plays not made behind them and Nola moreso than deGrom.

We might have Mets-colored glasses on when it comes to judging deGrom’s season, but one really has to search in order to find an argument against him.

Not too long ago it seemed like Dwight Gooden’s 1985 ERA of 1.53 was out of reach for deGrom, but now it could be within the realm of possibility. He would certainly need to finish off the year strong which might be a tall order considering the Mets’ upcoming opponents, but deGrom has repeatedly shown to never count him out when it seems like things are stacked against him.

deGrom vs. Mets History

Pitcher (Year) IP ERA K BB
Pitcher (Year) IP ERA K BB
Jacob deGrom (2018) 182 1.68 224 41
R.A. Dickey (2012) 191.1 2.63 190 44
Dwight Gooden (1985) 211.2 1.74 208 54
Tom Seaver (1973) 224.2 1.76 194 45

So far it seems like the voters are leaning toward giving deGrom the award. In the latest poll done by MLB.com deGrom edged out Scherzer for the award. It’s becoming increasingly harder to find a flaw in deGrom’s season especially after the month he just put together. Now that the calendar has flipped to September, the ace needs to just continue what he has been doing all year and it should be his name that gets called when they announce the Cy Young award.