It had been 51 days. 51 long, arduous, painful days since Jacob deGrom had last won a start. On June 18, Jacob deGrom delivered eight innings of one-run ball against the Rockies in Coors Field — which, by the way, was living up to its reputation in that series — and won his fifth game of the year to improve to 5-2 on the season. That was still a disproportionately small number of wins for a pitcher who had a 1.51 ERA through 14 starts, but it was still a salvageable record with about half a season remaining. After all, if deGrom continued pitching like he had been, there was no way he wouldn’t start racking up the wins.
Well, he didn’t. It took him until yesterday, Aug. 8, to finally earn win No. 6. Since that night in Colorado, deGrom had gone 0-5 in seven starts despite a 2.47 ERA across 51 innings — an average of roughly 7.1 innings per start.
Of course, it’s basically self-evident these days that pitcher wins are pointless and stupid. It is a common rhetoric shared by even the most casual baseball fans, because following baseball for any discernable amount of time will quickly lead you to the conclusion that pitcher wins are an illegitimate and deceptive measure to value a pitcher, even in the broadest sense. And you don’t have to look any further than Jacob deGrom to see the walking example of why that is.
But we live in a world so backwards, so through-the-looking-glass, that meaningless pitcher wins are still the primary driving force behind who wins the Cy Young voting. And I’d bet that even the oldest, most out-of-touch voters in the BBWAA would fully admit that pitcher wins aren’t the best way to value a pitcher’s season. But they still care about them, and they still value them, because it’s just intuitive. Pitcher wins unintentionally remain the first thing so many people look at because that’s how we learned the game. We learned wins are good and losses are bad. So a pitcher who wins a lot must be good. We weren’t taught the caveats of it or the reasons that pitcher wins were stupid; it’s too complex to grab at first. We had to learn it ourselves, over time. So even though we all know better, it’s still hard for so many to break the natural habit of caring a pitcher’s record — particularly for older fans and writers who didn’t have any other stats to look at for a long time.
So that deGrom is now 6-7 on the season should objectively have absolutely no bearing on his Cy Young chances, but it does. It just does. And because of that, he’s probably more of a long shot to win the award than the favorite, despite having an MLB-best 1.77 ERA, an NL-best 2.71 FIP, the second-best xFIP in the NL (2.78) and a top-10 in strikeout rate along with a top-15 walk rate. None of that matters. Right now, it seems that the only way deGrom can seriously make a bid for the Cy Young is for the Mets to get him a run of wins from here on out.
And yesterday’s game was, if nothing else, a good start to that. The Mets scored eight runs for deGrom, which was more than they had scored in his last four starts combined. They plated one run in the first on an Austin Jackson double, two in the fourth off a bases-loaded walk and a sacrfice fly by Amed Rosario, two more in the fifth on a double by Brandon Nimmo double and a Jackson single, and three in the eighth off doubles by both Nimmo and Jackson again.
Nimmo and Jackson were obviously the star performers of the game, both recording three hits. Nimmo’s three hits were all doubles, as he continues to bust out of his slump and prove that he is, indeed, a borderline-elite outfield bat. Jackson, on the other hand, raised his wRC+ to 95, which is 27 points higher than it was when he signed here. If he can continue to hit well, the Mets may look to bring him back on the cheap next year, and I’m not sure I can actually complain about that. Imagine that.
The Mets will go to Miami tomorrow to face the Marlins in the battle for last place. Zack Wheeler gets the ball against Jose Urena at 7:10 p.m.
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports