Jacob deGrom won the Cy Young Award last year, which is kind of remarkable given the start that he got off to in 2019. After nine games, deGrom was 3-5 with a 3.98 ERA and hardly resembled the pitcher who was so dominating in 2018. But from that point until the end of the season, a span of 23 games and 152 IP, deGrom was 8-3 with a 1.89 ERA. He limited batters to a .538 OPS and had a 0.901 WHIP with a 6.3 K/BB ratio.
So, how was deGrom able to turn things around? In those first nine games, deGrom threw to three different catchers. Wilson Ramos caught him five times, Tomas Nido three times and Travis d’Arnaud once. In the three starts with Nido, deGrom allowed just 1 ER in 21 IP. When he threw to either Ramos or d’Arnaud, he allowed 22 ER in 31 IP. Ouch.
Nido caught him his next three outings and deGrom got locked in. And even though Ramos returned to catch most of his games the rest of the year, deGrom was unstoppable. Maybe it’s too simplistic to say that Nido got him in a groove and even Ramos couldn’t mess it up. Regardless of how it happened, Ramos and deGrom learned how to work together and by the end of the year, their results were terrific. Kudos to both of them for working out whatever kinks plagued them at the beginning of the season.
Now we’re left wondering what deGrom can possibly do for an encore here in 2020 after winning back-to-back CY Awards. We’ve gotten used to dominance from him when he takes the mound. Can he keep it up in what will be his age-32 season? For what it’s worth, Max Scherzer won the CY Award in 2017 in his age 32 season. Can deGrom make it a three-peat? The last pitcher in either league to win three CY Awards in a row was Randy Johnson, who actually took home the award four straight times from 1999-2002.
Let’s check in and see what the computer models think:
Marcel – 183 IP, 2.80 ERA, 219 Ks, 47 BB, 19 HR
Steamer – 205 IP, 3.12 ERA, 259 Ks, 49 BBs
ZiPS- 184.1 IP, 2.88 ERA, 223 Ks, 42 BB, 21 HR
After three straight seasons with over 200 IP, it seems interesting that two of the three projection systems available now have deGrom falling short of that mark in 2020. Marcel and ZiPS have very similar projections overall for deGrom while Steamer shows him with more innings but an ERA about a quarter of a run worse. None of the three systems show him returning to 2018’s HR allowed level. But, given that he allowed 28 HR in 2017, perhaps that’s not at all surprising.
Here’s my completely biased forecast for deGrom:
IP – 210
ERA – 2.06
Ks – 250
BBs – 43
HR – 16
You’ll have more credibility in the future if you chime in now with what you think deGrom will do this year. Next, Robinson Cano goes under the forecast microscope.