Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch against the Atlanta Braves on May 2, 2018, at Citi Field.

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Keidel: DeGrom Looks To Rest His Cy Young Case Wednesday Night

1 More Win Could Boost Mets Ace's Chances

Jason Keidel
September 26, 2018 - 12:00 pm
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It's quite unlikely that you remember Christy Mathewson's magical 1908 season. Chances are you do recall Pedro Martinez's sublime 2000 season. 

Why do we care?

The above iconic pitchers posted the only two seasons in MLB history with an ERA under 2.00, at least 250 strikeouts and 50 or fewer walks. But they're about to have company. 

Unless he walks five batters Wednesday night, Jacob deGrom will be the third pitcher in baseball ever to post those eye-popping stats. Adding to his surreal season on the pitcher's mound, the Mets' ace has already set a record with his 23rd consecutive quality start. And if he allows three or fewer runs against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, he will have done so for the 28th straight start, which would tie Jake Arrieta for the most in history. (Though Arrieta did it over two seasons, while deGrom would have done it all in the same year.)

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If you Google deGrom, you'll see a montage of premature plaudits, the media already wrapping and handing him the NL Cy Young Award. But with a 9-9 record, it would be quite useful if the Mets' ace bagged one more win. If you ignore the relief pitchers who have won the award in either league, the Cy Young has never gone to a pitcher with a .500 record, nor to one with fewer than 10 wins. 

Felix Hernandez (13-12) in 2010 and Fernando Valenzuela (13-7) in 1981 are the only starters to grab the award with fewer than 15 wins, and Hernandez is the only one to win it while finishing so close to .500. You'd think such an aesthetic doesn't matter when deGrom has been so dominant everywhere but his record. But you're asking a group of voters, so tethered to history, stats and wins, to make an unprecedented exception if they vote for a 9-9 deGrom. 

Indeed, one more overwhelming start -- and one more win -- would make deGrom's record more visually agreeable, even if it doesn't add or detract from it in any serious way. It's not deGrom's fault he pitches for a club that has been grotesquely anemic at the plate when he starts. It's not deGrom's fault that the Mets have had batting outbursts for seemingly every pitcher but their best one. Nor is it deGrom's fault that the Mets plunged down the rungs of relevance after that scalding 11-1 start to this season. 

One more win, one more dazzling start would lick and seal the envelope on the season for deGrom, who not only has been the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, he's finished this summer stronger than his foes for the NL Cy Young. 

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Consider that Philadelphia's Aaron Nola (16-6) has allowed 24 hits and 15 earned runs in 29 1/3 innings this month for a 4.60 ERA. Despite his sublime start Monday night, Washington's Max Scherzer (18-7) has yielded 30 hits and 16 earned runs in 30 innings this September, for a 4.24 ERA. By contrast, deGrom has surrendered 13 hits and seven earned runs in 27 innings, posting a 2.33 ERA this month. For the year, deGrom's 1.77 ERA is well below that of Nola (2.45) and Scherzer (2.53).

Maybe the Mets have handed the back page and the bold ink back to the Yankees, even after reaching the World Series just a few years ago. And the only meaningful baseball after this week in New York will be played on River Avenue. But while the best team in the Big Apple is in the Bronx, the best pitcher on the planet will take the mound in Queens.

Jacob deGrom pitches for one more night and, hopefully, for one more win, and one major award. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel​.