Cy Young worthy Jacob deGrom is fulfilling his main objective: to dominate and win
If not for Zack Greinke, the Mets might have the clear cut favorite for the National League Cy Young Award pitching for them every five days in Jacob deGrom.
They may have it anyway. Over the last three months, he’s actually pitched better than Greinke, and that’s with Greinke’s scoreless streak of 45 2/3 innings wedged in between.
It just so happens that streak came to an end against the Mets, with deGrom opposing him at Citi Field on July 20.
Since May 16, Greinke has posted a 1.60 ERA, holding the opposition to a .503 OPS with 111 strikeouts in 118 innings over 17 starts.
During that same span, deGrom has posted a 1.44 ERA, holding the opposition to a .439 OPS with 121 strikeouts in 112 2/3 innings over 16 starts.
DeGrom has only been a little bit better, but better none the less.
If this trend continues, perhaps deGrom will win over the hearts of the voters, especially if the Mets win the National League East.
It certainly continued to trend positively for deGrom on a sultry evening in Baltimore on Tuesday night, as he allowed only a solo home run to Gerardo Parra in the sixth inning in an otherwise masterful performance against the Orioles.
He allowed only four other hits and walk with six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings for his 12th win of the year, lowering his ERA to 1.98 in 23 starts in 2015.
Assuming his ERA remains under 2.00, it would be among the three best marks in a single season in franchise history. Dwight Gooden posted a 1.53 ERA in 1985, and Tom Seaver posted a 1.71 ERA in 1971.
“He’s one of the best in the game right now,” Terry Collins said about deGrom. “There’s no question. I’ve talked to too many other managers. He’s one of the first guys they ask about. He’s very, very good. I talked to [Buck Showalter] before the game. He said, ‘How’s this guy pitching?’ I said, ‘Really good.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I know. I’ve been watching.'”
DeGrom said after his last start against Colorado he didn’t even realize his ERA had gotten so low.
He echoed those remarks after his stellar performance on Tuesday.
“I’m just looking forward to continuing to go out there and try to have success and put us in a position to win,” deGrom explained. “What’s happened has already happened. I just have to continue to work hard and try to improve on that.”
That’s how focused he has become on going out and performing the task assigned: putting up zeros and winning baseball games.
In the first inning, deGrom struggled to find his groove, as he needed 22 pitches to get through a scoreless frame. He wasn’t throwing poorly – he simply struggled to put the Orioles away in the first inning. For the elite power pitchers, it’s not uncommon for them to have comfort issues early, which is why its advisable for the opposition to get them early before they shut the door.
Baltimore was unable to do that, and deGrom quickly shut the door on their chances.
He had an incredible rising fastball throughout the night, and it specifically dominated Chris Davis, who just looked lost against deGrom. He didn’t have his good, tight slider working, so he adjusted and went to a heavy curveball instead, which Baltimore didn’t touch.
“My pitch count got up there a little bit early on,” deGrom explained. “After that, I wanted to get some quick outs, so I got some ground balls.”
That’s how good he’s become. He has the ability to change his approach like the flip of the switch, and execute as flawlessly as he can when he needs to power up and get the ball by hitters.
As good as he was last year, he’s elevated his game beyond being among the best pitchers in the sport. He is a clutch, lockdown ace, to the point anything less than a dominating performance would be stunning beyond belief.
And it’s that expectation which makes him a Cy Young contender by default.