With the regular season winding down, Jacob deGrom continues to pitch himself towards a second straight Cy Young Award.
Friday night's 8-1 Mets' win over the Reds was just the latest example of deGrom's flat-out brilliance, as the right-hander struck out nine over seven shutout innings, allowing just four singles.
DeGrom has now gone at least seven innings in 12 of his last 14 starts. During that span, he's pitched 94.0 innings and allowed just 17 earned runs while striking out 120 hitters.
"I just think that recently I've been able to really locate all four pitches and throw them when I want," deGrom said after the game. "I go back to that Braves game and I threw a 3-2 curveball to (Freddie) Freeman, which I probably wouldn't have done earlier this year. I think just having a feel for the changeup, slider, being able to move the fastball in and out and just being able to keep to guys off balance (has been important).
And what's perhaps the craziest part about his latest dominant outing? DeGrom said that he didn't feel quite himself as he prepared for the game.
"I didn't feel that great warming up tonight. I think Phil (Regan) knew that," deGrom said. "I felt better as the game went on, but there at 96 or whatever pitches (after seven innings), when they asked and I said I was starting to feel it. The last two guys, I had two strikes and if you look at those pitches they were kind of middle, where I felt like my arm was starting to drag a little bit.
"Last year it seemed like every time I took the ball I felt really good. There's been a few this year where I haven't felt that great but have been able to battle through and give these guys a chance."
His season ERA is now down to 2.51, and his WHIP has been lowered to 0.99, seemingly putting him in the driver's seat for his second straight Cy Young.
And while the Cy Young Award is now fully in reach for the Mets' right-hander, deGrom says that any personal goals are secondary to the team making the playoffs.
"Personal goals, everybody sets them, but the more important thing is for the team," said deGrom. "Getting to the playoffs is the main goal, and hopefully getting to that Wild Card game and having a chance to win that and move on. You definitely feel it when you're down to these last 10 games, and we've just got to continue to play good baseball.
"We've just got to keep winning baseball games. That's what we have to do and that's all we can control. We just have to keep going out there and pitching well and playing defense and scoring runs."