As the Mets waste the best season of Jacob deGrom’s career, his value is not lost, even on those who don’t see him work every day.
“If there’s a guy I want out there every fifth day, it’s either Max Scherzer or Jacob deGrom,” Bryce Harper said Thursday after the Nationals topped the Mets 5-4 at Citi Field. “I’ll take one of those two any day of the week.”
Only one will get to start Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Washington. While Mets manager Mickey Callaway has said any pitcher but deGrom would be the wrong decision, sentimentality says it will go to Scherzer, the Nationals’ ace, in his home ballpark.
“I’ll address that at a different time,” Scherzer, a two-time All-Star starter, said after allowing three runs on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts over seven innings Thursday. “I know how good [deGrom] is. We’ve seen him for years. He throws the heck out of the ball. He’s having a great year. He’s fun to watch.”
As Scherzer moved to 12-5 with a 2.41 ERA, baseball’s lowest ERA (1.68) still belongs to deGrom, even as he heads into the All-Star break on pace to record the fewest wins ever for a pitcher so dominant.
The Nationals’ Max Scherzer, at his home park, seems a good bet to get the All-Star start over the Mets’ Jacob deGrom.N.Y. Post: Charles WenzelbergOf the pitchers who have made 30 or more starts in a season with an ERA of 2.00 or lower, Roger Clemens had the fewest wins, 13, in 2005, when he head a 1.87 ERA for the Astros, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Every other pitcher in that stratosphere won at least 15 or 16 games. DeGrom, after 19 starts, is on pace to record nine wins.
The Mets’ current coaching staff didn’t have its hands on deGrom last year, when he crossed the 200-inning threshold for the first time and posted a 3.53 ERA, but pitching coach Dave Eiland can pinpoint the difference this season.
“He’s turned into a pitcher,” Eiland said. “He’s pitching in more, which he never pitched in before. I had that conversation with him in spring training and he bought into it and started pitching in more. Also his secondary pitches have gotten better.”
Callaway pointed to a maturation process that has allowed the former college shortstop to only get better with time, though when asked about the specifics behind deGrom’s extra edge this year, he could only chuckle.
“Maybe it’s because we haven’t been scoring runs and he doesn’t want to lose,” Callaway said. “There could be something to that. If he had three or four runs scored already, it would be harder to leave some guys stranded at second. But when it’s 0-0, maybe he just steps it up that much more when the game is tied.”
Of the 123 ¹/₃ innings deGrom has pitched this year, 36 have been in a 0-0 game. The Mets have averaged 3.79 runs per start for deGrom, the lowest run support on the team and 20th-lowest mark in the majors. But of the 72 runs the Mets have scored in his starts, 30 have come after he left the game.
Despite all of that, deGrom is pitching some of the best baseball of his career. He pointed to his unconventional routine of throwing two bullpen sessions between starts instead of just one, which has allowed him to develop more consistency with his mechanics and the ability to throw any pitch whenever he wants.
“It’s just feeling the slope under his feet, making sure his arm slot is in the right spot,” said Eiland, the former Yankees and Royals pitching coach. “Doing flat ground is counterproductive, because your landing leg lands early, so your arm slot’s lower. So he goes and does two, and obviously it’s worked out pretty well for him. The other guy I had that it worked out pretty well for is Andy Pettitte.”
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