Whether he ultimately wins the Cy Young award or not, Jacob deGrom is having a season for the ages. The numbers he’s putting up don’t just put him among the league leaders this season, but also in select company historically. He’s also been setting some new Mets standards as well.
deGrom’s scintillating 1.68 ERA is by far the lowest among pitchers in Major League Baseball. Chris Sale is the only other qualified pitcher below 2 and just barely at 1.97. Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in 1968 is the lowest season ERA recorded by a qualified starting pitcher in the modern era. No other starter has ever finished below 1.50 and just two have completed seasons with below 1.60 – Dwight Gooden and Greg Maddux. Only nine qualifying starting pitchers in the modern era have completed seasons with an ERA below 1.75 – Gibson, Gooden, Maddux (twice), Luis Tiant, Spud Chandler, Dean Chance, Zack Grienke, Carl Hubbell and Nolan Ryan. Those 10 seasons resulted in six Cy Young awards and two MVPs. deGrom has a chance to join that group.
In Mets history, only two qualified starting pitchers have registered season ERAs below 2. Dwight Gooden, in his 1985 Cy Young season, finished with a 1.53 ERA and Tom Seaver, in the second of his three Cy Young seasons, finished with a 1.76 ERA. Both of those Mets pitchers had the benefit of run support and each were 20-game winners, making their Cy Young candidacy a slam dunk, but that’s another matter.
With four or five starts remaining, deGrom will have a chance to pad his impressive season strikeout total as well. He currently stands at 230, fourth in MLB behind Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Tom Seaver’s single season Mets record of 289 seems pretty safe, but then he threw 286.1 innings that season which is unheard of now. deGrom is on pace to finish with 271 strikeouts in 222 innings. That’s better than 11 K/9. Yes, Scherzer is a bit better in that department, but when you factor in other peripherals, like deGrom’s 2.01 BB/9, 6.65 H/9 and 0.43 HR/9, his season looks more impressive, despite somehow not yet reaching double digit wins.
deGrom is also achieving many personal bests as he’s on pace to finish with career highs in game starts, innings pitched and strikeouts, and career lows in ERA, BAA, and WHIP. My favorite stat of all? Opponents slugging percentage – .289. Hopefully he gets a trophy to go along with these impressive numbers.