New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is having his best season yet in 2021.
In nine starts, deGrom is 5-2, with an incredible 0.62 ERA. He’s surrendered just four earned runs, 25 hits, and eight walks in 58 innings so far this year, while striking out 93 batters, good for 14.4 Ks per nine innings.
DeGrom wasn’t always an obvious future star. While the team brought up guys with incredible stuff like Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard around the same time, deGrom was a converted shortstop, without a ton of wear and tear on his arm. He was a bit of a late bloomer, making his MLB debut at 26 years old in 2014.
There were hints that he could be incredible, though. A 2012 tweet by SNY’s John Harper, citing a discussion with a scout, called deGrom the “best un-hyped Mets pitching prospect,” who was “dominating hitters” in A-Ball at the time.
Spoke to scout who says best un-hyped Mets' pitching prospect is Jacob DeGrom, converted SS dominating hitters at Class A Savannah.
— John Harper (@NYNJHarper) May 30, 2012
That’s a pretty fantastic call from Harper’s source, two years before Jacob deGrom got the call up. Even so, no one could’ve imagine deGrom having the impact that he’s had. Today, with renewed attention to the nearly-decade-old tweet, Harper credits Frank Viola with tipping him off first.
Have to give credit to Frank Viola for this. Pitching coach in Savannah then, he was the first person I ever heard talking up deGrom. Mets didn't want their minor-league people being quoted on players so I had to find a scout to essentially confirm what Viola told me. https://t.co/cjfJcJKQ22
— John Harper (@NYNJHarper) June 8, 2021
DeGrom’s worst career ERA came in 2017, when he had a rock solid 3.53. A year later, he took a leap from All-Star to superstar, putting together his best full season. In 32 starts, he pitched to a 1.7 ERA, while striking out 269 batters in 217 innings. His WHIP was also a career best 0.912. This year, that mark is at 0.569. He is as unhittable a pitcher as we’ve seen in MLB, putting up numbers rivaling Bob Gibson’s famed 1968 season.
Through 9 starts:
Jacob deGrom, 2021: 58 IP, 25 H, 8 BB, 93 K, 3 HR, 0.62 ERA
Bob Gibson, 1968: 80.2 IP, 54 H, 20 BB, 57 K, 2 HR, 1.34 ERA
Pedro Martinez, 2000: 68.1 IP, 40 H, 14 BB, 95 K, 3 HR, 1.19 ERA
Arguably the two best seasons ever, and deGrom is off to a better start.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 6, 2021
His historic early season play is a major reason why the New York Mets are off to a solid 29-23 start, 3.5 games up in the NL East—the second biggest division lead in baseball (the Chicago White Sox are four games up in the AL Central.)
The Mets’ bats have been relatively quiet after entering the season with high expectations, and the team has made it through a crazy rash of injuries. If deGrom can continue this run, he’ll be a cinch for his third Cy Young Award, and we’ll start having serious discussions about Cooperstown.