Jacob deGrom carried the burden this season of being the most valuable player on his team by far, and is the closest thing the Mets have to a sure bet going into 2018. Though some of his stats took a hit in a season that was strange for pitching in general, he was out there every five days, amassing 200 innings, 15 wins, and showing the consistency that has made him the centerpiece of the team.
Despite his relatively high ERA of 3.53 (still significantly better than most of the league), deGrom did some of the best pitching of his professional career this season.
He struck out a dazzling 239 batters -- fifth-most in baseball, and did so at a rate of nearly 11 batters per 9 innings, by far a career-best and good for seventh in the league. He also put up the best swinging strike rate and the best soft contact rate of his MLB career.
In reaching 200 innings -- a personal goal for deGrom for the season and a feat increasingly rare in today's game -- he has shown an ability to give his team length they desperately needed as they struggled with an otherwise atrocious pitching staff.
Of his 31 starts this season, he completed 8.0 innings in six of them, a mark tied with Max Scherzer for best in the National League. He completed 7.0 innings in 14 starts, 6.0 innings in 25 starts, and failed to reach 5.0 innings just three times. He was a true workhorse, maintaining effectiveness throughout nearly every start. The 48 batters he pitched to after reaching 100 pitches in a game hit just .208, and he struck out a third of them.
There were some areas in which deGrom took a step back, most notably in his rate of home runs allowed. He allowed 1.25 home runs per inning pitched, by far the highest of his career -- a rate just barely below league average. He was far from alone in this challenge, though, as home runs have spiked league-wide and even legendary pitchers such as Clayton Kershaw set career highs.
Still, deGrom's rate increased disproportionately to the rest of the league, suggesting that he was more vulnerable than most. A healthy offseason should give him the opportunity to adjust to this new era of offense and help suppress that rate going forward.
Perhaps the most positive takeaway from deGrom's season is that he experienced this level of success coming off surgery that ended his 2016 season -- a procedure to address a nerve issue in his elbow. While it is generally a successful surgery with minimal long-term impact (a fact that should be of comfort to Steven Matz, currently rehabbing from the same surgery), there are always unfortunate exceptions, and Mets fans can rest easy knowing that deGrom was not one of them.
DeGrom will go into 2018 fully healthy, accustomed to a 200-inning workload, and -- at 29 years old -- still at his physical peak.
As the Mets wrap up the most disappointing season in over a decade, there's little to feel good about. But deGrom's steady commitment to excellence remains as a much-needed reminder of what truly great pitching looks like.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring