Before Wednesday night’s start, most likely Jacob deGrom‘s final start of the season, New York Mets skipper Mickey Callaway showed a ton of support for his ace and National League Cy Young Award front-runner.
As per Tim Britton of The Athletic, Callaway seemed to be looking forward to deGrom’s start and blew past conventional “best this year” talk, putting him into the realm, in his opinion, of all-time greats.
“I’ll definitely savor it. If he finishes that way he’s been doing, it’s going to be the best season ever in my mind. It seems like every game is the same,” Callaway continued. “He dominates with the same stuff.”
Coming into last night, deGrom, 30, led the NL with his 1.77 earned-run average, 2.03 FIP, 8.3 fWAR, 0.43 home runs allowed per nine innings, and 1.98 walks per nine innings.
His main competition for the hardware, Max Scherzer of the Nationals has 18 wins on the season, a 2.53 ERA, and eclipsed 300 strikeouts for the season on Monday night. The vote won’t be unanimous, but our guy figures to have the edge after Wednesday night’s performance.
The lucky fellas who had to face deGrom last night, the Atlanta Braves, have already clinched the NL East and are currently playing for home-field advantage (2.5 games behind the Cubs heading into Wednesday’s games). Though, on this night, they didn’t stand a chance.
Although he allowed a well-hit, leadoff single to NL Rookie of the Year contender Ronald Acuna Jr., deGrom recovered to retire Ender Inciarte, Freddie Freeman, and then Nick Markakis in a scoreless first, mixing up his pitches exceptionally well.
Markakis saw a first-pitch curve, two high-90’s four-seamers, two sliders (the last one just missed being a called third strike), and then got him to ground out on a dialed-down, 93 MPH fastball. He’s toying with hitters, plain and simple.
Johan Camargo singled to start the second, but Jake struck out Tyler Flowers on three straight upstairs, 97 MPH heaters, then got Ozzie Albies to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario look awfully comfortable manning the Mets’ middle-infield, by the way.
deGrom struck out Charlie Culberson swinging on a darting, practically unfair slider to begin the third inning, got Braves hurler Sean Newcomb on another nasty spinner, and set down Acuna on a ground ball for a perfect frame.
Inciarte popped up a nifty changeup to lead off the fourth, then retired Freeman and McNeil made a fantastic sliding play on a sharp groundball from Markakis to end the inning. deGrom got through the frame on just nine pitches and went into the fifth with just 49 (32 strikes; he’s amazing).
Camargo went down swinging at another nasty slider to start the fifth, Flowers then received the same treatment, Jake’s fifth punchout of the game, and Albies hit a sharp grounder into the shift to complete another perfect inning, lowering deGrom’s ERA to 1.72.
The 30-year-old right-hander set down Culberson on a groundball leading off the sixth, struck out pinch-hitter Rio Ruiz on a waist-high 97 MPH fastball that the neophyte simply couldn’t catch up to in the next at-bat.
Jake retired Acuna on his seventh strikeout of the game, who then advanced to first on the wild pitch. Devin Mesoraco‘s errant throw caused Acuna to make a turn at first base, but the ever-aware deGrom called to McNeil to throw to Dominic Smith, who made the tag to end the frame.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead after Smith’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, and deGrom went right back to work in the seventh.
Inciarte shot a liner that appeared to be headed for right-centerfield but McNeil made another outstanding play, leaping towards the second base bag to snatch a base hit away. Freeman grounded out, and deGrom rung up Markakis on, you guessed it, another slider for his eighth strikeout of the night.
At 95 pitches and with a long offseason ahead of him, deGrom hit for himself in the bottom of the seventh (struck out) and came back out for the eighth looking to finish the season on a high note.
Putting the finishing touches on arguably the best season a pitcher has ever had in a New York Mets uniform, Jacob deGrom got Camargo to ground out softly, struck out Flowers for the third time, and struck out Albies for his tenth strikeout of the game and the 1,000th of his career.
deGrom finished his season with an absolute gem of an outing. The right-hander went eight innings, allowing just two hits, striking out ten and walking none. With his final strikeout, Jake surpassed Dwight Gooden for the fourth-most strikeouts in a single season in Mets history (269).
Jake retired nineteen Braves in a row to finish his night and did so in dominant fashion. His ERA for the year dropped t0 1.70, he’s got himself a winning record (10-9), the NL Cy Young is well within his reach, and his argument for NL MVP consideration is as strong as it’s been all year. What a wonderful season…