Jacob deGrom

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Jacob Anthony deGrom

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Biographical Information[edit]

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Jacob deGrom made his major league debut in 2014 and was the National League Rookie of the Year. In 2019, he became one of a handful of pitchers to win back to back Cy Young Awards.

He wasn't always destined to become a star pitcher. In high school, he had been better at basketball than baseball. DeGrom hit .243/.294/.271 as a college freshman, playing regularly at third base for the Stetson Hatters. He batted .258/.284/.289 as a sophomore, moving over to shortstop. As a junior, he hit .263/.324/.347 and also pitched (4-5, 2 saves, 4.48). The New York Mets, behind scout Steve Nichols, saw some potential and picked him in the 9th round of the 2010 amateur draft, one selection after Zach Walters, with designs to make him a pitcher.

Jacob was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA for the 2010 Kingsport Mets then missed a year due to Tommy John surgery. In 2012, the right-hander was healthy and did very well with the Savannah Sand Gnats (6-3, 2.51 in 15 games, just 14 walks in 89 2/3 innings) and St. Lucie Mets (3-0, 2.08), walking only 20 in 111 1/3 innings and posting a .997 WHIP. He was third among Mets farmhands with 100+ innings in WHIP, following Rafael Montero and Logan Verrett (who shared a June 19 birthdate). The Floridian hurler split 2013 between St. Lucie (1-0, 3.00 in 2 games), Binghamton Triplets (2-5, 4.80 in 10 games) and Las Vegas 51s (4-2, 4.52 in 14 games). His 168 hits allowed were second in the Mets chain behind Chris Schwinden and he was 7th with 120 strikeouts.

He began 2014 well with Las Vegas (4-0, 2.58 in 7 games). Jacob and Montero were called up when Dillon Gee went on the DL and veteran Kyle Farnsworth was released. In his debut on May 15th against the New York Yankees, his opponent was another pitcher making his big league debut, Chase Whitley. The two pitched well, with Whitley not giving up a run in 4 2/3 innings, while Jacob limited the Yankees to one run in 7 innings; unfortunately for him, it was the only run scored in the game, so he was stuck with a tough-luck loss, 1-0. Both he and Whitley also got their first major league hit off one another in the game; for deGrom, it was the first hit by a Mets pitcher all year, ending a record 0-for-64 drought at the plate. It took him eight starts to record his first big league win. It finally came June 21st against the Miami Marlins, 4-0; a game in which he pitched seven scoreless innings. He had been the first pitcher in Mets history not to record a win in his first seven big league starts. He was named the National League's Rookie of the Month for July after going 4-1, 1.39 during the month.

On August 2nd, he was locked in a great duel with Jake Peavy of the San Francisco Giants as neither pitcher gave up a hit through the first 6 innings of the game; he gave up a hit in the 7th, but Peavy cracked, allowing a four-run inning that led to the Mets' eventual 4-2 win. Just as there was beginning to be talk about Jacob as a Rookie of the Year candidate, he hit a snag when he was sent to the disabled list on August 11th with tendinitis in his pitching shoulder. He was back on the mound August 23rd, and continued to push his case as the circuit's top rookie. On September 9th, he pitched three-hit ball for 8 innings in a 2-0 win over the Colorado Rockies, making it the third straight start in which he had not given up an earned run. In his next start, against the Miami Marlins on September 15th, he tied a major league record by striking out the first eight batters he faced in the game, before his opposite number, Jarred Cosart, singled to right. He gave up 3 runs in 7 innings while striking out 13 and left with a 5-3 lead, but his bullpen gave up 3 runs in the 8th and he ended up with a no-decision (a pattern that would become all too familiar for deGrom in his Met tenure). The record he tied had been set by Jim Deshaies of the Houston Astros back on September 23, 1986. Now a broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs, Deshaies immediately congratulated Jacob with these words: "Congratulations to Jacob Degrom for tying one of the most hallowed records in all of sport". Mindful of not putting too much mileage on his arm, the Mets gave him one more start, a 10-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on September 21st, then announced they were shutting him down for the last week of the season, as he had nothing left to prove. He finished his rookie season with a record of 9-6, 2.63 in 22 starts, having given up 116 hits in 140 1/3 innings while striking out 144. He was named NL Rookie of the Month for the second time in September, as he was 2-0, 1.67, with 38 strikeouts, then won the vote as the league's Rookie of the Year.

On May 16, 2015, batting 8th in the Mets' line-up, he collected three hits in a 14-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers; the strategy was successful all around, as after his second hit of the night, shortstop Wilmer Flores, who was batting ninth, hit a grand slam. He had two hits in that inning, in which the Mets scored 10 runs. He was only the second pitcher since at least 1914 to have three hits from the 8th slot, Adam Wainwright having also done so in 2008. On May 21st, he had another great game, this time against the St. Louis Cardinals, as he gave up only one hit and struck out 11 over 8 innings in winning, 5-0. The lone hit came with one out in the 1st inning, a single by Matt Carpenter, and he retired the last 23 batters he faced in order. He was named to the All-Star team and impressed by striking out the side on ten pitches in his one inning of work.

On July 26th, he faced Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers in a much-anticipated matchup at Citi Field. It was the first time the top two pitchers in the National League in terms of ERA had faced each other in the second half since 2003; moreover, Greinke was coming into the game with a scoreless streak of 43 1/3 innings, longest since Orel Hershiser set the all-time record in 1988. Jacob ended the streak himself in the 3rd inning when he drove in Kirk Nieuwenhuis from third base with a fielder's choice, and left with two outs in the 8th with the Mets holding a 2-0 lead. However, closer Jeurys Familia allowed a pair of runs in the 9th, and he (as per usual) ended up with a no-decision for his great effort.

At the end of August, he was in a battle with Greinke for the league ERA title, but a rare poor outing against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 24th badly damaged his chances, as he gave up 3 homers, good for 7 runs, in only 2 2/3 innings; his ERA jumped from 1.98 to 2.29 but he escaped with a no-decision as his teammates went on an offensive rampage, clubbing a team record 8 homers and 14 extra-base hits to emerge 15-7 winners. He finished the year at 14-8, 2.54, with 205 strikeouts in 191 innings. He was then the pitching hero of New York's win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series, winning both of his starts with a 1.38 ERA and striking out 20 in 13 innings. He also won his only start against the Chicago Cubs in a Mets sweep of the NLCS, but the Kansas City Royals got to him in his only World Series start, in Game 2 on October 28th: he gave up 4 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings as the Mets went down to defeat, 7-1.

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Jacob was named the Mets' Opening Day starter in 2016 and was a 7-2 winner over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 8th, giving up only 1 run in 6 innings. He then left the team to be with his wife Stacey in Florida as she was expecting the couple's first child any day. Son Jaxon was born on April 11th, but he soon suffered complications and Jacob had to be placed on the family medical emergency list so that he could remain with his family. After some very tense moments, things improved to the point that Jaxon was discharged from the hospital on April 18th, and deGrom made his return to the mound on April 24th. Logan Verrett had filled his starting spot in his absence. On July 17th, he pitched one of the best games of his career, a 5-0 one-hitter over the Philadelphia Phillies in which the only hit belonged to his opponent on the mound, Zach Eflin, a 3rd-inning single. It was his first career shutout and complete game. Injuries limited him to 24 starts that year, during which he went 7-8, 3.04, logging 148 innings.

In contrast, he was one of the few healthy Mets starters during the first months of 2017, although his ERA was much higher than his usual standards over the first two and a half months. On June 18th, he pitched a veritable gem, limiting the Washington Nationals to three singles over 8 innings in a 5-1 win. In that game, he hit his first career homer, a solo shot off Joe Ross. That game was the second of a streak of eight straight winning starts by Jacob that improved his record to 12-3 by July 24th; he had also cut his ERA by a full run and a half, from 4.75 to 3.30. Just as impressive, he had pitched 7 or more innings in 7 of those 8 starts, with the other going 6 2/3. The streak ended with a loss to the Seattle Mariners on July 29th. He ended the year at 15-10, 3.53 in 31 starts. He pitched 201 1/3 innings and struck out 239 opponents, establishing personal bests in all categories.

DeGrom started the 2018 season strong, going 3-0, 1.87 in his first 7 starts. He was placed on the disabled list with a hyper-extended elbow for ten days in early May, but made his return immediately after on May 13th. In a start against the Philadelphia Phillies, after a rain delay of almost an hour, he needed 45 pitches to get through the 1st inning, and while he did not allow any runs, the Mets pulled him out of the game as a precaution. He did not allow a hit, but walked the bases loaded with none out and there were 20 foul balls hit against him, a sign that his pitches did not have their usual sharpness. He bounced right back in his next start on May 18th when he struck out 13, matching a career high, in a 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He matched that career high on June 2nd, in a start against the Chicago Cubs, but as was too often the case that season, he ended up with a no-decision, when New York lost the game, 7-1, in 14 innings. At that point, he was leading the National League with an ERA of 1.49 in 12 starts and had racked up 98 Ks in 72 1/3 innings, against just 54 hits, but his record was a mere 4-0. He was named to the All-Star team for the second time despite his lack of run support.

On August 18th, he pitched a complete game 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, the run being unearned, to lower his ERA to 1.71. He was just 8-7 at that point, despite having arguably pitched better than anyone in the league. This being New York, it of course led to stories that this proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the pitching win was the "dumbest statistic in baseball" and should be abolished forthwith, lest he lose out on postseason awards because of his low win total! On September 3rd, in another no-decision, he held his opponent - the Los Angeles Dodgers - to 1 run on 2 hits in 6 innings. It was the 25th straight start in which he had held opponents to 3 or fewer runs, something not seen since 1913; he was previously tied with Dwight Gooden, who had accomplished this in 1985, for the longest such streak. He made his final start of the season on September 26th and pitched 8 scoreless innings against the Braves to earn his 10th win (against 9 losses) and lower his ERA to 1.70. He struck out 10 batters, including the 1,000th of his career. His 1.70 ERA put him in an elite group of 9 pitchers who had managed to post an ERA below 1.80 since 1969, including fellow Mets Gooden in 1985 and Tom Seaver in 1971. Ironically, that same day, German Marquez of the Colorado Rockies tied the mark deGrom shared with Jim Deshaies by striking out the first 8 batters he faced in a game. He finished the season by having allowed 3 or fewer runs in his last 28 starts, setting a new major league record. Following the season, he was voted the winner of the 2018 National League Cy Young Award as voters rightly ignored his pedestrian won/loss record and instead focused on his other exceptional numbers.

Following his exceptional 2018 season, deGrom was eligible for salary arbitration and received a raise of historic proportion as a result. He agreed on January 11, 2019 with the Mets on a salary of $17 million, representing a raise of $9.6 million, the largest ever accorded to a player seeking arbitration. There was intense speculation that the Mets were negotiating a contract extension with him in order to avoid a similar episode in future years. This came to pass on March 26th when the two sides agreed on a five-year deal worth $137.5 million. He proved his worth in his second start on April 3rd against the Marlins as he struck out 14 batters in 7 innings and also hit a home run to lead the Mets to a 6-4 win. His streak of consecutive quality starts had now reached 26, tying Bob Gibson in 1967-1968 for the longest in history. The streak ended with his next start, on April 9th against the Minnesota Twins, when he gave up 6 runs in 4 innings. On April 19th, he was placed on the injured list, retroactive to the 16th, because of discomfort in his elbow. He underwent an MRI but it came back clean, meaning his absence would be a short one. On August 23rd, he repeated his feat from April 3rd when he struck out 13 batters and also homered while giving up 1 run in seven innings in a start against the Atlanta Braves. No other pitcher in history had ever combined 13 strikeouts and a homer in one start more than once in his career, so it was remarkable that deGrom could do it twice in a season! He also recorded his 200th strikeout of the year in the game, giving him his third such season. Alas, he left with the game tied, 1-1, and the Braves went on to win the game 2-1, in 14 innings. At season's end he was 11-8 with a 2.43 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, fanning a league leading 255 batters in 204 innings. Even with his modest win total, he repeated as the National League's Cy Young Award winner, with exactly the same vote totals as the previous year.

DeGrom was one of the few exciting stories to concern the Mets during his rookie season in 2014, as the team otherwise played listlessly and was never in playoff contention. His very distinctive look, with a wild mane of shoulder-length hair, made him a fan favorite, to the point that the Mets mascot, Mr. Met, showed up at one of his home starts wearing a wig that imitated the hairstyle. He sported the look until the end of the 2017 season, then in 2018 showed up with short hair, making him practically unrecognizable to those used to his previous look.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Award
  • 3-time NL All-Star (2015, 2018 & 2019)
  • 2-time NL Cy Young Award Winner (2018 & 2019)
  • NL ERA Leader (2018)
  • NL Strikeouts Leader (2019)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (2017)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (2017-2019)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 4 (2015 & 2017-2019)


NL Rookie of the Year
2013 2014 2015
Jose Fernandez Jacob deGrom Kris Bryant
NL Cy Young Award
2017 2018 2019
Max Scherzer Jacob deGrom Jacob deGrom
2018 2019 2020
Jacob deGrom Jacob deGrom tbd

Sources[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Anthony Castrovince: "deGrom repeats, JV edges Cole for Cy honors", mlb.com, November 13, 2019. [1]
  • Anthony DiComo: "deGrom's Cy quest built on calm character: Quick to ignite as a child, Mets ace now known for level-headed dominance", mlb.com, September 10, 2018. [2]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Mets ace Jacob deGrom is 7-7. He could win the Cy Young award", USA Today, August 16, 2018. [3]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Jacob deGrom on track for second straight Cy Young Award - and Mets still can't win for him", USA Today, September 4, 2019. [4]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Mets ace Jacob deGrom goes back-to-back with another NL Cy Young award", USA Today, November 13, 2019. [5]
  • Mike Lupica: "deGrom making strong case for NL Cy Young: Ace has been silver lining in Mets' lost season", mlb.com, August 19, 2018. [6]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Mets ace Jacob deGrom admits it: Cy Young Award 'would mean a lot'", USA Today, August 23, 2018. [7]
  • Bob Nightengale: "New York Mets had no choice but to pay Jacob deGrom", USA Today, March 26, 2019. [8]
  • Justin Toscano: "Jacob deGrom the ... basketball player? Yes, the Mets ace also starred on the hardwood", USA Today, April 26, 2020. [9]

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