Jacob deGrom is pitching well enough to stake a claim for his third Cy Young award. The trouble is several others are pitching equal to or better than him.
Jacob deGrom – Always Over The Top
Jacob deGrom is on his way to having another signature season as the ace of the New York Mets staff. On the line is a chance to engrave his name in baseball history as one of three pitchers to earn a Cy Young over three consecutive seasons.
Baseball writers who are eligible to vote new members into the H.O.F. favor two critical elements in a player’s career. One, was the player dominant in his time? And two, they reward longevity and the so-called numbers compilers.
If you project out his current stats, Jacob deGrom will not qualify in the latter category. But a third straight Cy Young that puts him in company with Maddux and Johnson is sure to draw considerable attention.
Jacob deGrom: There’s Trouble On The Way
The season is older than you may think. With three starts deGrom and others have made, that’s already one-fourth of the starts they will make in the entirety of this shortened regular season.
Over his three outings, Jacob deGrom is putting up “degromlike” numbers. Typically, two of his starts are no-decisions due to lack of run support, but overall he’s pitching to a 2.12 ERA, with 22 strikeouts over 17 innings and his W.H.I.P. is less than one (0.706).
The problem on the rise is that quite a few National League pitchers are doing even better than that. Generally, Earned Run Average (not wins) is the first stat to draw attention in the Cy Young voting.
Currently (rankings here), deGrom ranks 12th in the league, and he’s looking up at five competitors with an E.R.A. of 1.50 or less, and four of those have an E.R.A. of less than 1.00.
Jacob deGrom looks better in the number of strikeouts (currently 2nd) (rankings here), but again the numbers are skewed by the fact that most of the pitchers listed have yet to make their third start.
Jacob deGrom’s Competition – Let’s Name The Culprits
First, let’s dispose of a few wannabes who are suspect to continue to pitch as well as they are. Referencing the E.R.A. rankings again, it’s fair to say Tyler Chatwood, a career 49-55 pitcher is way over his head.
Jon Lester, at 36 and prone to injury, is likely to fallout after his team (Cubs) lose some of the steam they’ve gathered by their hot start.
Trevor Bauer Coming Right At You
Trevor Bauer is one of those larger than life character who fills any room he’s in, whether he’s welcome or not.
A climate skeptic and Twitter troll, the pitcher, claims he’s only good at two things: ‘throwing baseballs and pissing people off’ (The Guardian)
And yes, he’s the same guy who is most (in)famous for the time he risked Cleveland’s playoff chances in the 2016 American League Championship Series after injuring his pitching hand while playing with a drone.
For whatever reasons (maybe the calm of the steamships sailing along on the Ohio River), Trevor Bauer has found a home with his teammate Gray with the Cincinnati Reds.
Bauer’s only win this year is a complete-game shutout. His E.R.A. is a microscopic 0.068, and he’s registered 20 strikeouts over 13 innings pitched while surrendering only four hits. But the thing is Trevor Bauer is doing it all with flair, and fans are eating it up.
Sonny Gray Taking Big Strides Forward
Even in his days at Vanderbilt, Sonny Gray has always portrayed as an enigma. An army of scouts who have followed him rave about his stuff, particularly the “spin” he gets on each of his pitched.
As the hottest thing in baseball during the march to the 2017 trade deadline, it was the New York Yankees who swooped in to capture Sonny Gray in exchange for a boatload of minor league prospects.
New York fans, especially, will recall the deer in the headlights look on Gray as he tried to adjust to life with the Yankees in The Big Apple.
The marriage couldn’t and didn’t last long, and both sides breathed a sigh of relief when the Yankees mercifully traded Gray to the Cincinnati Reds following the 2018 season.
An All-Star last year with a 7th place finish in the Cy Young voting, Sonny Gray is finally in touch with Sonny Gray in 2020.
Undefeated in three starts, Gray is mowing batters down with 28 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. With an E.R.A. under one, he’s averaging less than four hits per nine innings pitched.
But much like his teammate Trevor Bauer, Gray’s body language when he’s pitching now conveys a more significant message than his stats.
Barring injury, this is the guy to watch as the season progresses.
Mirror Mirror On The Wall – Who’s The Fairest Of Them All
It’s not a fair question, is it? Jacob deGrom is one of the elite pitchers in all of baseball. He’s been around the block, and many would say deGrom pitches in rarefied air inhabited only by a few.
But just as sure, deGrom is facing a couple of young bulls who are trying to make their way into his space.
Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer are formidable challengers to deGrom’s try for a third consecutive Cy Young.
If the vote were held today, deGrom would not win the award. But that’s the advantage of being a gritty veteran who has “been there” before, especially when those starts in September take on special meaning in the run for the Cy Young, M.V.P., and other awards.
Jacob deGrom can never be counted out, but it’s fair to say he is climbing uphill this year, despite the numbers he continues to put up. My bet – Sonny Gray in a close one.