Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins on Sept. 11, 2018, at Citi Field.

USA TODAY Images

Keidel: Mets Should Be Ashamed For Constantly Letting DeGrom Down

Baseball's ERA Leader Has Sub-.500 Record

Jason Keidel
September 12, 2018 - 2:27 pm
Categories: 

While the city sweats through its first bout of football fever, it's easy to forget there are two MLB clubs playing in NYC. 

And while Sam Darnold was lighting up the Lions, and we all basked in his endless potential, we forgot there's someone else in town who throws a ball, and does it better than anyone in any local uniform. 

Indeed, Jacob deGrom took the mound for the Mets on Tuesday night against the Marlins. He began the night with the best stats in baseball, pitched another fabulous game (seven innings, three hits, two earned runs, nine strikeouts), then took another loss. Despite tying or breaking some salient pitching records Tuesday, deGrom's record is now an incongruous 8-9, despite his 1.71 ERA, which leads MLB by a laughable margin.

Watching deGrom pitch is a surreal experience, especially when he does it at home. It's a display of dazzling contradictions. DeGrom is the best pitcher on the planet, yet few are there to watch him. When SNY spun its cameras to face his front, you could see behind him the acres of empty seats at Citi Field. The sections beyond the outfield wall could have been roped off from the public, and there would have been little difference. 

MORE: Report: Mets' GM Search Prompts Fierce Internal Debate

Bad baseball teams don't get big crowds. But it was astonishing to see the freckling of fans Tuesday night as the Mets trotted out their star hurler, who lost the game on one bad pitch in the fourth inning. 

After a double play erased the Marlins from the bases, deGrom gave up two singles, the latter being a desperate, defensive swing by Derek Dietrich that barely shaved the ball, flaring it into left field. Then after tossing two quick strikes, deGrom made his lone error -- a misplaced fastball to Lewis Brinson, who was batting .205 with 99 strikeouts in barely 300 at-bats. Brinson smacked a double off the center-field wall, driving in the only two runs deGrom yielded all night. If it were any other team, it would have been a speed bump on the road to victory. But these are the Mets, who provide no offense for deGrom, suffering collective, batting constipation every time he pitches. 

Consider that fourth inning vis-a-vis deGrom's remarkable summer. It was only the third time he's given up three straight hits this year. Naturally, deGrom retired the next 10 batters with the almost lazy ease that has defined his sublime season. But these are the Mets, so it may as well have been a dozen runs.

DeGrom even swatted a single up the middle in the fifth inning, which resulted in nothing, of course. Michael Conforto clubbed a homer over the left-field wall in the sixth, making it 2-1. Then the Mets' bullpen belched a few runs, stretching it to 5-1 before Kevin Plawecki hit a cosmetic two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, making the final score 5-3.

MORE: Schwei's Mets Notes: Team Outplaying Rest Of NL East Since July 1

As Ron Darling -- maybe the best color commentator on the planet -- astutely asserted, this is the best year he's seen from a Mets pitcher since he shared a dugout with Doc Gooden and marveled at his historic summer in 1985. 

Not only did deGrom lose a game he pitched with typical aplomb, he lost to Miami, the only team under the Mets (65-78) in the NL East standings. The last-place Marlins (56-87) were publicly and profoundly gutted by new personnel czar Derek Jeter. After shipping last year's NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, to his former club, Jeter has left a skeleton crew to play 162 games before largely empty ballparks.  

You almost expect Rod Serling to stroll out on the field when deGrom pitches, assuring us that this is not really deGrom's record, but rather the latest episode of "The Twilight Zone." Like Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Darling, postgame commentator Nelson Figueroa -- another former Mets pitcher -- was left to explain the loss through this shared bewilderment as deGrom set or tied two remarkable records. 

Since 1893, only one pitcher has gone 26 straight starts while allowing three or fewer runs -- Jacob deGrom, passing the renowned King Cole, who had 25 such starts in 1910. DeGrom also tied Gooden for having the most consecutive quality starts (21) in Mets history. With runners in scoring position, deGrom allows a .143 batting average, over 100 points better than the MLB average (.253). In 16 of deGrom's 29 starts, he allowed one or zero runs. Yet he may not even win 10 games this season. 

If deGrom pitched for about 10 other NL teams, he'd have a Secretariat-like lead over the field for the Cy Young. But he pitches for the Mets, a team that somehow loves him yet plays like they loathe him.  

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel​.