The New York Mets’ 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, depending on how long you’ve been a fan, was almost exactly as frustrating as you could’ve expected it to be.
Jeurys Familia got the loss after blowing the save in the ninth inning, and the offense managed just one run on a Brandon Nimmo homer. The offense as a whole had just five uninspiring singles as they dropped a rubber game to a pitching staff that entered the affair dead last in the National League with a 5.00 ERA.
Another fixture in a game only the Mets could lose, however, was a pitching effort that only Jacob deGrom himself could put forth. DeGrom tossed seven shutout innings while allowing just four hits and walking only two batters.
Eight strikeouts in the quality start may have fallen a tad short of the 12.1 K/9 mark he held entering the contest – but make no mistake – a victory that would have pushed his record to 5-0 still wouldn’t have been enough of a reward for deGrom’s gutsy performance. Yet here we stand, unpacking another disheveling loss the humble righty did everything in his power to fight.
Mickey Callaway talked about the tough loss, “It’s tough because [deGrom] has been dominant. I mean, not just good or solid. He’s been dominant. He’s not giving up any runs. So we’re in a good spot to win the game every time he pitches.”
DeGrom currently sits atop the National League leaderboard in ERA (1.54) and opponent OPS (.518). The only pitcher to rank higher in the majors? Justin Verlander… just your typical future Hall of Famer (1.08 and .451, respectively).
In 117 career starts, deGrom has allowed either one or zero runs 53 times. The odds that deGrom muzzles an offense are essentially a smidge under those of a coin-flip. And with a 1.89 FIP and 2.54 xFIP, an argument can definitely be made that deGrom has established himself one of the best pitchers in the National League.
However, if there is one thing that having a once-sprawling assortment of young arms has taught us fans, it’s that being an ace relies on competitive, spirited pitching more than it does velocity and efficiency. The king of your rotation is always the pitcher you turn to with momentum on the line.
In 2018, when behind in the count, deGrom has still held opposing hitters to a .22o slugging percentage. With men in scoring position, opponents’ .390 OPS tells all. In high leverage situations (per Baseball Reference), batters are even less likely to have their way, crawling to a .085/.170/.149 line.
As the Mets clean up and prepare to fly into Milwaukee, deGrom consoles a remorseful Familia in the clubhouse. He bears no dopey nickname, nor does he carry a reputation for a blistering triple-digit fastball. Jacob deGrom is already preparing for his next appearance, however – hungry to build off a rip-roaring start to the season, even if it meant shedding his prized locks. He holds one absolute that we will gladly carry with us as a trying season wages on: he is an ace.