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Jacob deGrom: Baseball’s ultimate cheat code

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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An ERA of 1.08, a WHIP at 0.55, 14.3 K/9, a FIP of 1.23, an xFIP of 1.62, and a WRC+ of 111 as a pitcher.

That’s through 15 starts.

Those are a starting pitcher’s numbers. No, that isn’t a joke.

If you’re not too familiar with statistics, just know that we haven’t seen anything like this in a long time.

Jacob deGrom has had probably the greatest single season pitching performance since Pedro Martinez way back in 1999. Baseball fans got to witness Eric Gagne in 2004, Justin Verlander in 2011, Clayton Kershaw in 2014, Zack Britton in 2016, and many other heroic single season pitching performances since Martinez’s historic campaign.

And yet deGrom seems to have all those beat so far in 2021.

Mets fans know how special deGrom is. It’s almost a guaranteed win whenever he’s on the mound, as long as the lineup can tack on a run during his outing, which unfortunately has been a critical problem for the team this season.

Despite the lack of importance a win/loss record has when it comes to gauging a pitcher’s abilities, it’s a travesty that deGrom is only 7-2 over 15 starts, because he merited a win in every single start he’s had all year.

Few people dared to argue whether or not deGrom was the best pitcher in 2021, but those claims were proven to be blasphemous in no time, and even the eye test proves those claims wrong.

Rewind to July 1. The Mets are taking on the Atlanta Braves on the road, and I don’t even need to mention who started that game for New York.

It’s the bottom of the first, and deGrom runs into trouble. He gives up an RBI single to Ozzie Albies to tie the game at one after Michael Conforto gave the Mets the lead in the top half. Later in that same inning, he surrenders a two-run bomb to Austin Riley, and it’s 3-1 Atlanta.

He gets out of the inning, and he’s seen slamming his glove in the dugout in disgust. If you saw that without context, you’d likely assume he surrendered six runs and got chased.

That same game, he goes on to pitch seven frames and strikes out 14 batters.

Yes, that was considered an “off-night” for deGrom. Seven innings, 14 strikeouts, zero walks.

If you continue to look through his game log, it’s just dominant start after dominant start, and it only gets better the more you scroll.

His April 23 start against the Washington Nationals highlights the bunch. He threw a complete game shutout while facing only 29 batters, just two over the minimum possible over a full game. He fanned 15 batters and walked none and it’s scary to think that a lot of his performances can rival that one.

He started on June 16th against the Chicago Cubs, and only pitched three innings. That may look concerning on the surface, but he owned the Cubs in the little time he played that night. He retired all nine batters faced, and struck out eight out of them. He then got pulled due to a shoulder issue.

He makes opposing lineups look silly, and he does it with a very limited, yet perfected repertoire that other pitchers dream of mastering.

deGrom really only throws three pitches, and each one is crafted to perfection. He pounds hitters with fastballs that average (yes, average) 99 mph, a dirty slider that he uses to perplex hitters on the lower corners of the plate, and he also sprinkles in a completely broken changeup.

He mixes up his pitches to perfection, meaning it’s the guessing game from hell for any hitter that steps up to the plate. Going from his blazing fastball to his ghost-like changeup in under 15 seconds is not a fun task.

If you want an even more insightful look as to how dominant he is, look at his advanced statistic percentiles. You don’t need to be an advanced stats nerd to understand that being in the 100th percentile in so many stats is outstanding. Every way you cut it, deGrom is inhuman.

It’s a shame he’s likely going to miss out on his third career CY Young award due to injury. He hasn’t pitched since early July, and at this point he just doesn't have the innings to qualify him. Otherwise, the voting process would be redundant.

deGrom is expected to miss a little more time, and his absence is being felt in New York. The Mets have been struggling lately, and have recently fallen to third place in a weak NL East

They’re going to need to hit better until their ace is back, but it’s been a miserable challenge for the Mets in terms of scoring runs. It’s becoming clear they can’t do much damage unless they have him taking the mound every five days.

It goes to show the importance of having a guy as good as deGrom is. And while his absence may do a number on New York’s postseason odds this year, this legendary campaign will be talked about for generations not only by Mets fans, but baseball fans altogether. And he’s still got a lot to show us in the future.

We have another future hall-of-famer paving his legacy in front of our eyes, and it’s something we shouldn’t take for granted.


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