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An update on Jacob deGrom and the National League Cy Young race

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deGrom struck out fourteen last night, though his ERA went up slightly in the process.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With fourteen strikeouts in a two-run, seven-inning performance against the Rays last night, Jacob deGrom was brilliant. The fact that the outing actually increased his ERA from 2.09 to 2.14 goes to show just how good he’s been this year and how spoiled he’s made Mets fans over the past several years.

That leaves deGrom as one of seven pitchers who still at least has a real shot at winning the award. Yu Darvish ranks seventh in the National League right now with a 2.22 ERA, and while Zack Wheeler’s eighth-ranked 2.67 ERA is very good, the gap between him and the top seven guys is large enough to draw the line between those two pitchers.

NL Cy Young race through 9/21/20

Pitcher IP ERA K BB fWAR bWAR
Pitcher IP ERA K BB fWAR bWAR
Corbin Burnes 56.0 1.77 83 22 2.6 2.1
Trevor Bauer 65.0 1.80 88 16 2.0 2.4
Max Fried 55.0 1.96 50 19 1.9 3.1
Dinelson Lamet 65.1 2.07 89 19 2.3 2.3
Jacob deGrom 63.0 2.14 94 16 2.6 2.5
Clayton Kershaw 54.1 2.15 59 8 1.6 1.8
Yu Darvish 69.0 2.22 88 13 2.7 2.2

With one start left in his season, deGrom could get his ERA under 2.00 again with enough scoreless innings. Five scoreless would get him to 1.99, six scoreless to 1.96, seven scoreless to 1.93, eight scoreless to 1.90, and nine scoreless innings to 1.88. If he were to give up one run over the course of nine innings, he’d finish the year at exactly 2.00.

If deGrom brings his ERA down, especially if he maintains the league lead in strikeouts along the way, he will have a real shot. Things will depend on the performances of the four pitchers ahead of him in their remaining starts, of course, but if the race is tightly packed, Corbin Burnes, Max Fried, and Clayton Kershaw might get dinged for having lower innings totals than deGrom, Trevor Bauer, Dinelson Lamet, and Darvish.

By the time deGrom makes his final start of the year, which is slated for Saturday night against the Nationals, we’ll know more about how his competition has fared. Fried and Bauer are scheduled to pitch tomorrow. Darvish, Kershaw, Lamet, and Burnes started over the weekend and will presumably get final starts of the regular seasons later this week, though neither of their teams has their next start officially listed just yet. In some cases, though, those pitchers might not make full starts as their teams gear up for the postseason, with the Dodgers and Padres already having clinched postseason spots and the Cubs and Braves likely to do so in the coming days.

And even after all of those starts, it’s easy to see the eventual vote for the Cy Young being as divided as it’s ever been. With teams only playing within their own division and against the same region’s division in the American League this year, many writers who vote on the award will have only seen the pitchers in their own division in person. Burnes, Bauer, and Darvish all play in the NL Central, while deGrom and Fried are in the NL East and Lamet and Kershaw are in the NL West. If everyone finishes really close, those split votes in the Central could help the pitchers on the coasts.

Given the Mets’ underwhelming record and very remote odds of making the playoffs, deGrom’s final start at least has the potential to help him lock up a third-straight Cy Young Award.