Jacob deGrom pitches against the Miami Marlins on May 23, 2018, at Citi Field.

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Keidel: Mets Sure Aren't Doing Jacob DeGrom's Cy Young Chances Any Favors

Ace Has Just 4 Wins Despite Leading Majors In ERA

Jason Keidel
June 18, 2018 - 1:34 pm
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While watching the buffet of sports talk shows Monday morning, a stat crawled across the bottom of the TV telling us that Jacob deGrom's 1.55 ERA would be the lowest in Mets history before the All-Star break. 

DeGrom leads the majors in WAR for pitchers (4.3) and is a half-run ahead of Max Scherzer (2.06) in ERA. If you need to know why or just need a reminder, deGrom is starting Monday night at Colorado, where he will likely toss seven shutout innings and lose.

DeGrom has allowed six earned runs in his last 10 starts, yet the Mets are 2-8 in those starts. You, like most humans, wonder how that's possible. It takes a special, bat-deprived lineup, as the Mets have. The Mets recently toiled through a stretch in which they scored three runs in 42 innings. After their miraculous win Sunday in Arizona, the Mets have now won consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month. That's how bad the Mets (30-38) have been since their surreal 11-1 start. 

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If you take a wider lens to deGrom's dominance over his last 10 starts, he's allowed 44 hits while notching 83 strikeouts. If you add walks, hit-by-pitches and errors, he's allowed 65 baserunners over that span against his 83 K's. He's fanned 113 batters in 87 innings this season, with an obscene 1.01 WHIP and .206 batting average against. And deGrom has allowed four home runs all season. 

While it's the middle of June, it begs an early question: If he keeps his stats at this surreal pace, does deGrom deserve Cy Young consideration? At 4-2, he certainly doesn't have the wins of a typical ace, but the Mets are an atypical team. In this long-ball era, deGrom is especially dominant. And if you're looking for some kind of precedent, Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young in 2010 with a 13-12 record, largely based on his 2.27 ERA. Hernandez won with basically a .500 record despite CC Sabathia's 21-7 record and despite David Price going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA. 

As manager Mickey Callaway awkwardly told us, playing in New York ain't easy. So not only has deGrom lapped the field despite his team's laughable run support, he has done so in America's media vortex. While the rest of the Mets have been swept down the current of the East River, deGrom is the only player or pitcher keeping his full head above water. He doesn't even have his copilot of the rotation, Noah Syndergaard, by his side. Thor's hammer has been on the shelf for much of the last two seasons because of odd injuries, from latissimus tears to swollen fingers. 

More than ever, a premium has been placed on earned run average. The old salt used to recycle the virtues of wins and losses, but we know a pitcher's winning percentage is often beyond his control and disproportionately molded by his team's run support. If we assume that ERA remains static, then Scherzer's prorated record will be about 20-6. And since Scherzer is the only one with an ERA in the same realm as deGrom's, then we'll keep the Cy Young race momentarily limited to them. 

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As great as he is, the media and masses may suffer from some Scherzer fatigue. He has won three Cy Young awards, including the last two. He also has something to play for beyond his own stats every time he pitches, as his Nationals are always in playoff contention. DeGrom is pitching for pride, and as the only Met really worth watching this season. While the crosstown Yankees have lost just one series since April 13, the Mets are 19-37 since April 11. 

If Scherzer matches Sabathia's 21-7 record in 2010 and keeps his ERA a half-run higher than deGrom's, and the Mets ace finishes 12-10, it makes for a near-carbon copy of King Felix's Cy Young season. Of course, it would be pretty hard to argue against Scherzer winning a fourth award. But it would be pretty easy to argue for deGrom, as well. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel