The New York Mets have easily the best one-two punch in baseball at the top of their rotation. Noah Syndergaard is a freak of nature, but perhaps the least talked about ace in the MLB is lanky right hander Jacob deGrom. Lets take a look at how deGrom turned himself from a light hitting shortstop into the ace of the New York Mets.
Jacob deGrom was drafted in the 9th round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft by the New York Mets out of Stetson University. deGrom was originally a shortstop at Stetson, but was known for his good glove and strong arm. After making a few relief appearances, deGrom was announced as the team’s closer his junior year. He quickly became one of the best pitchers on the team after joining the starting rotation.
Minor League Career
Just six starts into his Rookie ball campaign with the Kingsport Mets, deGrom was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL. He attempted to just rehab the arm, but four months later underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2011 season. He then went through the system impressively but quietly, as he finished the 2012 season with a 2.12 ERA in 19 A-Ball starts.
In 2013, he made appearances in High-A St. Lucie, Double-A Binghamton, and ended up in Triple-A Las Vegas. He combined for an ERA of 4.51 and struck out a total of 120 batters. The Mets added deGrom to the 40 man roster during the 2013 offseason. He began the 2015 season in Triple-A still, but pitched well.
Major League Debut
After injuries to the big league club, deGrom was called up on May 12, 2014 to jump in the rotation and make his Major League Debut. deGrom was thrown right into the fire, as he was to face the New York Yankees in a classic Subway Series matchup at Citi Field. Despite suffering the loss, deGrom held his own as he tossed seven stellar innings. He allowed one run on four hits while striking out six and walking two. He also picked up his first Major League hit in the process.
Rookie of the Year
DeGrom lasted in the Mets rotation for the rest of the 2014 season. In his first four big league starts he tossed four straight quality outings, despite not picking up a win. He he began his big league career going 0-4, before picking up his first win on June 21 as he threw seven scoreless innings against the Marlins.
From June 8-August 2, deGrom showed baseball just what he was capable of. He rallied off five straight wins in as many starts. He allowed just four runs in that span, and struck out a total of 37 batters. deGrom finished the year with a record of 9-6, a 2.96 ERA, 144 strikeouts, and became the first Met once Dwight Gooden to take home the National League Rookie of the Year.
2015 All-Star Game
In his second year in the league, deGrom played a big role in the Mets World Series run. He finished his second year with a 14-8 record, 205 strikeouts, a 2.54 ERA, was named to his first All-Star game, and finished 7th in NL Cy Young voting. The kid threw together a stellar All Star game performance on the big stage as he struck out all three batters he faced on just ten pitches.
The Big Stage
DeGrom performed on an even bigger stage later in the 2015 season. Jacob started Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS against the Dodgers, and he put together a historical start. He allowed no runs on five hits over seven innings, and tied a Mets franchise postseason record set by Tom Seaver with 13 strikeouts. However, that wasn’t even his best outing of the series as deGrom battled to a Game 5 won in which he didn’t have his most effective stuff.
In Game 3 of the NLCS against the Cubs deGrom pitched a seven-inning game, and allowed just two runs on four hits, with a walk and seven strikeouts, to put the Mets within one game of their first World Series appearance since 2000. DeGrom struggled, but made the start in Game 2 of the World Series for the Mets. His gutsy pitching, and nonstop battling was certainly a game changer for the Mets.
DeGrom again dominated early on in the 2016 season. In his first three starts, he was 3-0 with a 1.02 ERA (only 2 ER’s) and 14 strikeouts. He then fell victim to the Mets lackluster offense, drawing five straight no decisions. Despite posting a stellar ERA of 2.45 with 40 strikeouts in the month of June, deGrom went 0-3.
On July 17, deGrom tossed his first career complete game shutout as he one hit the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark. DeGrom made only six starts the second half of the season, as in mid-September he was forced to undergo season ending surgery on his ulnar nerve. In total, deGrom posted a record of 7-8 with a 3.04 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 148 innings.
Bright Spot in a Dark 2017 Season
DeGrom has been Mr. Consistency for the Mets. When the whole rotations fell apart due to injuries in 2017, deGrom was the only one to stay healthy. During a stretch running from June 12-July 24, deGrom dominated as he recorded a win in seven consecutive starts.
Despite the losing season, deGrom made everyone of his starts. He posted a decent 3.53 ERA, and struck out a career high 239 batters in 201 innings. He finished 8th in National League Cy Young voting.
Thus Far in 2018
DeGrom has been victimized by the Mets offense an his bullpen earl and often in 2018. He has pithed beautifully, as in eight starts he is 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA and 56 strikeouts. The thing with deGrom’s totals, is that he could easily be at least 6-0. The Mets offense and bullpen need to do a better job of supporting their ace when he provides “ace-type” starts.
The Mets are certainly going to be cautious with deGrom the rest of the season after he hyper-extended his elbow a couple of weeks ago. However, I do not think it will effect deGrom all that much. He will still go out and do his thing, and deGrominate.
An interesting factoide in the career of Jacob deGrom, is that he has been perhaps the best pitcher in baseball during the daytime. He 41 career starts during the day, deGrom is 19-8 with a 1.97 ERA and 285 strikeouts. He has held opponents to a slash line of .198/.259/.277 during day games. There ya have it: Jacob deGrom = different pitcher during day games.
It is just a matter of time before Jacob deGrom takes home a Cy Young award. deGrom flies under the radar, and it is time he throws his name right on the map. He has finished in the Top-10 twice in his career. If deGrom stays healthy in 2018, this could be the year he takes one home.
The Mets should end up signing him long term. DeGrom has stayed healthy, and still produced great numbers despite all the adversity surrounding the teams around him. Jacob deGrom is the epitome of consistency. You send deGrom to the mound, and you know what you’re going to get. He is going to battle, with his best stuff or his not so great stuff, either way he is going to battle. It’s a good thing Stetson turned deGrom into a pitcher, because he is the ace of the New York Mets pitching staff.