Despite Injuries, Jacob deGrom Is The Cy-Young Favorite

Jacob deGrom is having yet another fantastic season for the Mets. He is seemingly well on his way to his third Cy-Young in four seasons. If it weren’t for the shortened season last year, and Trevor Bauer‘s success against the worst offensive teams in the National League, deGrom could’ve been going for an unprecedented fourth-straight Cy-young.

deGrom’s Incredible Start To 2021 Season

For most of this season, deGrom was on an incredible run, one where he drove in more runs than he has allowed. Despite the fact that he has allowed five runs in his last two starts, he still has an ERA below 1.00, at 0.95. After allowing three runs in the first inning, and two men on base in the second, he went on to retire 18 straight batters and recorded 14 strikeouts.

In between those 14, he recorded a stretch of eight straight, which was the fourth time in his career to achieve that. It was also the fourth game this season that deGrom has recorded 14+ strikeouts.

deGrom has been absolutely phenomenal yet again this year. Despite all the noise surrounding baseball with foreign substances, deGrom has succeeded through all of that and continues to get better. For example, at age 28, deGrom’s average fastball velocity was 93.4 mph. Fast forward five years later, deGrom’s average fastball velocity is now 99.3 mph.

Velocity Increase A Sight To Behold

He has consistently hit 100+ mph on his fastballs and with seemingly little to no effort. His motion and pitching style is one of the smoothest in the big leagues, which has allowed him to pitch at such a high velocity without putting too much stress on his arm.

Throughout this season, he has continued to prove his dominance over baseball hitters, while making many top players look silly in the process. 136 strikeouts to 11 walks in 85 innings, with a 0.54 WHIP. He has shown time and time again that he can dominate hitters without letting them reach base. He’s a special pitcher, and on a current run that could only be rivaled by Clayton Kershaw‘s run during his prime years. He is on his way to becoming potentially the best pitcher in Mets history, although there may be some potential barriers in the way.

deGrom On His Way To Becoming Best Mets’ Pitcher

Tom Seaver, famously known as “The Franchise” has been known as the Mets’ best pitcher for a while now. Jacob deGrom is looking to change that. His career ERA of 2.50 is .07 points better than Seaver’s 2.57, his career WHIP of 1.01 is also .07 points better than Seaver’s 1.08, and his .213 BAA is the third-lowest behind Sid Fernandez and Nolan Ryan.

When we turn to advanced stats, Jacob deGrom also bests Seaver in ERA+, with deGrom’s being 157 and Seaver’s, 136, with 100 being average. When we turn to FIP, known as Fielding Independent Pitching, the two are much closer with deGrom’s being 2.63 and Seaver’s being 2.67. This statistic is supposed to represent the events that are totally in control of the pitcher, while completely eliminating defense. It’s clear that the race between the two is close, despite some things getting in the way.

For one, the body of work could be a major factor. deGrom’s 1254.2 innings are a far cry from Seaver’s 3045.1 innings. As a result, he has around 1,000 fewer strikeouts than Seaver as well. However, deGrom is much more of a strikeout pitcher than Seaver was so if deGrom can perform at a high level for another six or seven years, he can definitely take Seaver’s place as the best pitcher in Mets history.

deGrom Has Succeeded When It Mattered

While there may be some discussion about that, there is no doubt that deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball as we speak today. And before someone mentions the fact that he hasn’t pitched in any “big” games, mustn’t they forgot his outstanding performances in Games 1 and 5 of the 2015 NLDS, while in the latter, not having close to his best stuff. Although the team has not made the playoffs since 2016, there is nothing that deGrom can do about that as he has already given the team his best effort for the past four seasons.

He cannot control how other players perform, or how the front office manages the team, or of course, injuries. But despite all of that, deGrom has continued to succeed at a very high level. As a result, this may finally be the year that we see deGrom and the Mets back in the postseason, with both looking for some unfinished business.

The Clear Cy-Young Favorite

As for this season, he is the clear-cut Cy-young favorite as of right now, although both Kevin Gausman and Brandon Woodruff have put up strong seasons on their own fronts. Game after game he makes opposing teams look silly and it’s no wonder why he’s already had four games of 14+ strikeouts. No matter the team, no matter the players, he has performed and shut down anyone that he has faced.

His competitive nature wouldn’t have it any other way. Although deGrom is a quiet guy on the surface, he is a very serious and competitive guy in the clubhouse. No matter who comes up at bat to face him, he is looking to sit them down in the nicest way possible. It’s something you want to see from your ace and the face of baseball from the pitching point of view.

However, through all of Jake’s successes in this season and previous ones, it couldn’t be an article about Jacob deGrom without mentioning injuries. Injuries are of course a part of the game. The Mets certainly know about that as they have lost more than 3/4 of their Opening Day roster to injuries at some point and have deployed 48 players, tied for third-most in baseball. deGrom, unfortunately, has had his fair share which has caused him to leave three starts.

Injuries Have Been deGrom’s Kryptonite

First, it was a side injury that caused him to leave his start against the Diamondbacks after just five innings. Next, it was a finger injury during his June 11th start against the Padres. He departed after six innings with right flexor tendonitis. Despite the nagging injury, he still struck out ten Padres. He then made his next scheduled start and left yet again, this time due to a shoulder injury.

In what seemed like it could’ve been a special night, with deGrom striking out eight of the first nine batters he faced, he departed after three innings with shoulder discomfort. What seemed to be a precautionary move turned out to be just that as his MRI came back clean with no structural damage. He has since made his last three starts and has looked ok, fingers crossed, health-wise.

Now, of course, deGrom’s health-wise comes first and foremost as the Mets can’t afford to lose him for an extended amount of time. Therefore, they are going to watch him cautiously and take his starts inning-by-inning. The Mets don’t want to risk anything and it seems that he will not be pitching deep into games, at least not yet. Later in the season would be a different story I assume, however, the club will take everything day-by-day and start-by-start.

Mets Must Protect Their Ace at All Costs

This is, of course, the right move by the club. They cannot risk any serious injury to deGrom that could not only affect him this season but future seasons as well. The Mets must do whatever they need to protect him, and if that means a pitch count and fewer innings, then so be it. Now in past seasons, I may have stated otherwise due to a faulty bullpen that couldn’t hold a lead to save their lives. However, up until this point, they have held their own and done really well.

The Mets should still acquire at least two bullpen pieces to deepen the bullpen further in case there are any breaks injury or performance-wise. The point being, the Mets can afford to have deGrom pitch less in games to ensure that he’s perfectly healthy, come later in the season. Of course, there could be some implications Cy-young or MVP-wise, which of course have minimum inning requirements.

Currently, he is at 85 innings, which would put him 51st in the league. At the top is Zack Wheeler, who has been a horse for Philadelphia with 114 innings. There’s a couple of factors for this, as we discussed before, which include three missed starts due to injury, as well as leaving starts early due to injury.

As a result, deGrom is currently 29 innings short of the league leader. Of course, he doesn’t have to be the league leader in innings to win either award. As a matter of fact, even if he were to stay in the place he currently is, he could still pull of both awards. It’s just something to keep an eye on as the Mets will be extra cautious with him, and rightfully so, and to see how he finishes the rest of the season.

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