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Jacob deGrom has quietly worked his way back to Cy Young candidate

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He’s not the frontrunner, but deGrom is right up among the best pitchers in the league.

San Diego Padres v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Let’s just start this off by getting this out of the way: Hyun-Jin Ryu has a 1.66 ERA that gives him a sizable lead in what is still probably the most important category when writers cast their votes for the Cy Young at the end of the season. It would presumably take some missteps by him or an injury that cuts his innings total short for the door to the National League’s award to open.

Having said that, though, it’s worth pointing out that Jacob deGrom has been so good for the past few months that he’s climbed the ranks and now has a 2.78 ERA that is the sixth-best mark among qualified starters in all of baseball and the fifth-best mark among those who pitch in the National League. And yes, on top of Ryu’s significant lead in ERA, deGrom would probably have to pass most, if not all, of his competitors, all of whom have been more fortunate with their win-loss records this year.

But the fact that deGrom isn’t the frontrunner doesn’t take away from just how well he’s pitched after some rough starts early in the season. Despite pitching a couple of gems to start the year, deGrom had three straight starts that saw him climb up to a 4.85 ERA following the last of them, which was on April 26. Since then, he’s had one bad start, and the other sixteen have been very good.

In total, from his May 1 start to the dominant start he had against the White Sox on July 31, deGrom has a 2.29 ERA in 110.0 innings with 131 strikeouts and 24 walks. And his month of July should get him the NL award for pitcher of the month, as he made five starts and had a 1.09 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 12 walks in 33.0 innings of work. This has been deGrom at his absolute finest, and his performance is one of the major reason that the Mets and their fans can even dream of the team getting back into a Wild Card spot right now.

At the moment, here are the ERA rankings in the NL:

  1. Hyun-Jin Ryu: 1.66 ERA, 135.2 IP
  2. Mike Soroka: 2.37 ERA, 114.0 IP
  3. Max Scherzer: 2.41 ERA, 134.1 IP
  4. Luis Castillo: 2.63 ERA, 130.0 IP
  5. Jacob deGrom: 2.78 ERA, 136.0 IP
  6. Clayton Kershaw: 2.85 ERA, 123.0 IP

There are other stats that factor into the award, and as is the case with the Mets’ Wild Card, it’d be premature to start wondering if he could actually end up winning the Cy Young. But it’s not too soon to check in on those rankings after each of his starts to see how he compares to the competition.

And while last year’s performance has nothing to do with this year’s award, it’s nice to bask in the glory that is deGrom’s dominance since the beginning of the 2018 season. Among qualified starts in the NL over that span, his 2.12 ERA is by far the best. Of the top 25 pitchers on that list, his 0.61 home runs allowed per nine is one of the few below 1.00 and the only mark under 0.70.

So the point of all of this is basically just to remind the reader that Jacob deGrom is pretty freaking great. And the fact that you can reasonably call him a candidate for the Cy Young—he’d finish somewhere decent even if that vote were held today—when he had a pedestrian-for-him 3.71 ERA at the end of May is impressive. It would take some help and a sustained run of greatness for him to actually win it, but as was the case with healthy David Wright, you eventually learn that doubting deGrom foolish more often than not. And award or not, deGrom continues to be among the very, very best at a very, very difficult job.