For Jacob deGrom to win the National League Cy Young Award, he needed to win 10 games and finished the season with a winning record to make sure there are no doubts.
Mission accomplished. He achieved that magic number after pitching eight shutout innings and striking out 10 to earn a 3-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves Wednesday night at Citi Field. It should be now inevitable that he is going to win the award with a 10-9 record.
He should be an odds-on favorite to win it at this point. He has the ERA to show for it at 1.70 after retiring the final 20 batters in his final start of the season. He finished the season with couple of single-season records such as 24 straight quality starts and 29 straight starts of allowing three runs or less, which should be the be-all and end-all instead of awarding the Cy Young based on wins and losses. He made the voters’ job easy by getting the double-digit wins required to win the award.
There was momentum for deGrom going back to last week when Nationals ace Max Scherzer was not going to get 20 wins. Go ahead and point out the Nationals ace becoming the 17th pitcher since 1900 to strike out 300 batters in a season, but in a sport where hitters strike out frequently, that achievement does not mean much. Phillies ace Aaron Nola has been mediocre at best this month.
deGrom maintained his excellence this entire season unlike his competitors. It was interesting SportsNet New York’s Mets play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen and Mets manager Mickey Callaway mentioned that it was hard to distinguish any of his great starts this season because they have all been relatively the same. That’s another reason why he should win the Cy Young.
If he actually had run support all season long, he would have had at least 15 wins. If his bullpen did not blow his games, he would have had at least five wins. Add them up, and he would have gotten 20 wins if he was not a victim of circumstances. Then, ignorant folks like ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds wouldn’t have to complain about deGrom’s lack of wins if the bullpen and the offense did its job.
Fortunately for deGrom, baseball writers are smarter than that when it comes to voting for the Cy Young. They look at the body of work than just wins and losses. They look at ERA, WHIP, quality starts, FIP, innings pitched, among others. There was a precedent set when Felix Hernandez won the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2010 over then-Rays ace David Price and Yankees ace CC Sabathia despite a 13-12 record, so the Mets ace has that going for him.
From the eye test itself, deGrom should win the NL Cy Young. He has been the best pitcher in baseball all season compared to Scherzer, Nola, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber and Blake Snell (likely American League Cy Young Award winner). This is the best regular season a starter had since Pedro Martinez in 1999. This is the best regular season a Mets starter had since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
The Mets stopper can back up this claim by throwing career-high 217 innings and making 32 starts to go with the lowest ERA in Major League Baseball. He also gave up the fewest home runs of all pitchers this season by giving up only 10 and allowed only the fewest walks with 46.
What’s impressive about him is that he always pitches to the scoreboard, which is making sure he does not give any runs to give the Mets a chance to win. His mentality is to throw shutout innings when he is out there, and that has served him well this season and in past seasons. It can’t be easy for him to do that, especially when the Mets struggled to score runs for him this season. If anything, this could sway voters to vote for him. It shows right there that there is certain toughness about him that made him an elite starter in the last few years.
Last night was a typical deGrom performance. If anything, one can make a case this was his best performance of the season with everything at stake. As always, he had to pitch to the scoreboard, which meant he couldn’t give up a run. He did that with no problem. After facing 609 batters (most in the majors) with the score tied or the Mets up or down by one run, it becomes easy for him.
He was never in jams in this contest.The feeling was this was going to be his night when Dominic Smith hit a RBI single that scored Michael Conforto to give the Mets a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning and Jeff McNeil made a diving catch to rob Ender Inciarte of a single in the seventh innings. The Braves knew then they had no chance on that night.
The only downer of this night was when Mets manager Mickey Callaway decided not to let his star go for the complete game. In a season he has been so great, it would have been nice for him to put an exclamation mark to season by finishing the game.
In what was a postseason atmosphere at Citi Field for the first time in a few years, it made sense. Instead, deGrom had to settle for a standing ovation and hugs from his teammates, including David Wright in the dugout after finishing his night by striking out Ozzie Albies and getting his 1,000th career strikeout in the process.
After the game, the Mets ace was asked by SNY’s Steve Gelbs if he should win the NL Cy Young. He responded by saying that it’s not for him to decide.
There was no reason for him to campaign for the award on this night.
His overall season and his final start of the season spoke for itself.