Most of us know better than to judge pitchers by their win totals. At the same time, we want to see pitchers, especially starters, get rewarded if they pitch well with the W. That’s what made Jacob deGrom’s season last year frustrating. It was the best pitching performance by a Mets hurler in a generation but it wasn’t until very late in the year when he clinched a winning record.
In 23 of his 32 starts last year, deGrom allowed two runs or fewer, with 18 of those being zero or one run. And he picked up right where he left off last year in his first game of 2019, as he did not allow a run. But this dominant pitching isn’t new. Instead, it’s a continuation of what he’s done since making the majors in 2014. Here are his year by year numbers in runs allowed:
|Year||Games||0 R||1 R||2 R|
It’s hard to say which one is more impressive. In 21% of his career starts, deGrom has not allowed a run. In 46% of his games he’s allowed no more than one run. And in 64% of his appearances, he’s allowed two runs or fewer. And this isn’t the deadball 1960s. The NL has averaged 4.33 runs per game in deGrom’s career.
That’s a total of 89 games in his career where deGrom has allowed two runs or fewer. How many of those should he have won? Then you figure he should have won a decent amount of games where he allowed three runs and a handful of games where he gave up four or more. Max Scherzer has a 2.79 ERA since deGrom’s rookie season of 2014 and he’s won 86 of his 165 starts or 52% of the time. Meanwhile, deGrom has a lifetime ERA of 2.65 and has won 56 of his 140 starts or 40% of the time. If deGrom amassed wins at Scherzer’s rate, he’d have 73 wins or 17 more than he actually does.
MUSINGS AROUND MICKEY’S MOVES – After Opening Day, there was a huge story over at MetsBlog, praising Mickey Callaway for the moves he made. That was far from the only place as, among others, he received props in the comments section on our Gut Reaction. And without a doubt, he had a better day in the dugout than his counterpart, Dave Martinez. But if it’s newsworthy to congratulate Callaway for his performance when he does well, shouldn’t it stand to reason that he should be at least questioned when his moves are less than stellar?
In a tie game in the seventh inning, he brought in Justin Wilson, who’s either his fourth or fifth-best reliever, depending on how you feel about Robert Gsellman. Wilson was great, so if you’re an “end justifies the means” kind of guy, you give him high marks. But if you’re a process guy, it has to at least make you go hmmm. Then with a four-run lead, he brings in Jeurys Familia, who’s likely his second-best reliever. An error put Familia in trouble so Callaway went to the pen to bring in Seth Lugo. Martinez put up his best pinch-hitter, lefty Matt Adams, who proceeded to hit the first pitch to the wall. The move to go to the lefty hitter was somewhat predictable. Shouldn’t lefty specialist Luis Avilan been ready to come into the game?
Then in the ninth the Mets extended their lead to seven runs. It was the perfect situation to get low leverage reliever Tim Peterson into the game. Instead, Lugo was sent out for the ninth in a move that felt like it was designed to get him a cheap save. The Mets’ defense let Lugo down and with good fielding he would have closed out the game with a DP and a strikeout. But they didn’t get the DP and Lugo was left in the game to throw 40 pitches before he was finally yanked. And he wasn’t removed until it was another save situation. Now Lugo won’t be available for Sunday and both Familia and Edwin Diaz have appeared in both games. It’s hard to look at this and say it was a good game for Callaway.
UPCOMING INJURY-RELATED TRANSACTIONS – With both Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie beginning the year on the Injury List, both Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith started the year in the majors, which is something few saw happening when Spring Training began. Frazier seems to be ahead of Lowrie in his recovery and will likely be back after he gets to play a few minor league rehab games. The question becomes who goes once Frazier returns. We know it won’t be Alonso. And Smith seems to have Callaway’s trust as a late inning defensive replacement, having done that in both of the games so far this season. The other candidates would be J.D. Davis and Luis Guillorme. The latter figures to be safe until Lowrie returns. Will the Mets value Davis’ ability to play both 1B and 3B or will that be redundant once Frazier returns? And will Frazier also make Smith less valuable than Guillorme once Lowrie returns? It will be curious to see how the Mets play this.
HERE’S TO YOU MR. ROBINSON, WITHIN REASON – The hitting star of the opening game was Robinson Cano, who gave the Mets the early lead with a first inning homer and who also drove in the game’s only other run with an opposite field single against a lefty specialist. He also participated in a key defensive play, making a throw home to nail a baserunner who made a poor decision to try to score. The throw home was one that most other competent MLB second baseman would have made. But to hear people talk about it, you’d think that Cano came up with a cure for cancer. It was his unique veteran experience which allowed him to make this awesome play and just another example of what a great leader he is.
Cano deserves all the credit for his hitting exploits in the game. But it’s embarrassing to watch people trip all over themselves to praise him for anything remotely positive that he does. It’s reminiscent of how the fans and media treated Richie Hebner in the first half of 1979 in an effort to convince Hebner that New York wasn’t such a bad place to be. Cano wants to be here; let’s treat him accordingly.
IN PRAISE OF AN EX MANAGER – Dusty Baker is rarely thought of as one of the best managers in recent history but you’ll forgive me if that’s where he rates in my mind. He’s taken four different franchises to the playoffs and in 22 years leading teams, he’s amassed an 1863-1636 record for a .532 winning percentage. Over a lengthy MLB managerial career, Baker averages 86 wins a season. He won 90 or more games in five of his last six years on the bench but wasn’t brought back by two different clubs. The Reds went from 90 wins in Baker’s last season to 76 without him while the Nationals went from 97 wins in Baker’s last year to 82 wins without him.
Since 2010, Baker has a 41-24 record against the Mets. The year before he arrived in Cincinnati, the Reds went 2-5 against the Mets. The year after Baker left, Cincinnati won just two of six games against New York. It was more of the same in Washington. The Mets went 11-8 against the Nats the year before Baker took over and again won 11 of 19 games after Baker was replaced. But the two years Baker was in DC, his squad went 25-13 against the Mets. With two wins this season, the Mets have now won seven of their last nine games against the Nationals, something that would have been unthinkable if Baker was still running things there. As a Mets fan, thanks for running him out of town, Washington.