The Mets' Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch against the Yankees on Aug. 13, 2018, at Yankee Stadium.

USA TODAY Images

Keidel: DeGrom Absolutely Deserving Of Cy Young Award

Win-Loss Record Shouldn't Disqualify Mets Righty

Jason Keidel
August 14, 2018 - 11:06 am
Categories: 

For millennials not old enough to remember when Keith Olbermann really mattered, he was the star anchor of "SportsCenter," ESPN's signature show back when the sports network owned cable TV.  

Olbermann has always admired the sound of his voice and adored his opinions. A frothing baseball fan, Olbermann is hardly Mel Allen or Vin Scully, who made their baseball bones in the booth calling games. Yet there was Olbermann doing the play-by-play at Yankee Stadium when the Bombers played the Mets on Monday night. And while you would have been justifiably exhausted by his gaseous sermons over win totals for starting pitchers, he's right. 

The Yankees are being wrongly framed as a shipwreck choking on Boston's dust while they moonwalk to the AL East title. The Yankees are having a fine season; they just happen to be playing in the same division with a club that forgot how to lose. 

By abject contrast, the Mets are indeed a wayward baseball whale gone ashore, its carcass being picked apart by the vultures of media and the masses. There is one reason to watch the Mets at least once a week, and that reason was on the mound Monday. 

MORE: Schwei's Mets Notes: HRs vs. Yanks, Walk-Off Losses, Jackson's Hot Stretch

Jacob deGrom is on course to set all kinds of conflicting records. The first pitcher in a century to work 200 innings and finish with an ERA under 2.00 yet fail to finish with a record over .500. He beat the Yankees on Monday night. In a rare thunderclap of power, the Mets hit more homers in that game than they had in his last seven starts combined. Despite his Gibson-ian ERA, his record is now a pedestrian 7-7. 

DeGrom's woes are well known. There have been seven times in which he's not surrendered a single run, yet has won just two of those games. Entering Monday's contest, the Mets were somehow 9-14 in his starts. The irony is that deGrom's ERA actually inched up from 1.77 to 1.81, yet the Mets actually had his back. DeGrom tossed 6 2/3 innings, yielded two runs and struck out 12 Bombers. 

If deGrom pitched for the Yankees, or in Boston, he would be the runaway Cy Young -- if not MVP -- winner. If Max Scherzer weren't pitching to his normal, monstrous standards, then deGrom would have a more salable case for NL Cy Young. But as annoying as Olbermann was with his proselytizing, his argument for deGrom is still proper. 

During his endless preaching, the genre-hopping host said that deGrom should not be held responsible for his team's anorexic lineup. He moaned about the time Rockies relief pitcher Alan Embree got a win in 2009 without throwing a pitch. Embree picked off a runner at first base for the third out, then his team scored runs in the bottom of the inning, and he was credited with the victory. Then Olbermann groused over the time when a depression-era pitcher for the Cleveland Indians hemorrhaged 338 hits in 339 innings, recording just 73 strikeouts, and finished 19th with a 2.89 ERA, yet won over 30 games. 

MORE: Keidel: Callaway's Return Could Prevent Mets From Attracting Top FAs

We can shoot the messenger and applaud the message. This is a statement made with decreasing regularity: Olbermann is spot-on. DeGrom is the best pitcher in the National League and is having the best season. If Luis Severino, who has been pitching more like Sonny Gray than Ron Guidry over the last month, can still lead the AL with 15 wins, then deGrom is getting alarmingly hosed by the Mets. 

A stat grid that sells and seals the case for deGrom looks like this: He is first in ERA, second in WHIP, second in strikeouts and first in earned runs allowed, and he has 159 more strikeouts than walks, second in the NL. (All ranks among NL starters who have thrown at least 145 innings.) During a debate with his colleague, Tim Kurkjian, Olberman said there's a woeful chasm between the numbers and how voters view them. Kurkjian accurately pointed out that Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young with a 13-12 record. 

This is not some covert attempt to slip the Mets a consolation prize when the Yankees are exponentially better as a team. Should Jacob deGrom keep this pitching pace, he should get more than a symbolic nod for the NL Cy Young. He should win it, even if Olbermann his most ardent advocate. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel