I've never been more impressed and wowed by Mets RHP Jacob deGrom than I was watching his start Monday against the Rockies at Coors Field.
He did not have good control of his slider or change up as early as his first opponent of the game. In this situation, like most every pitcher in baseball, the deGrom of a few years ago would have tried to push through and keep searching for his command -- at least through the first inning.
If lucky, this foolish approach will work. If not, the pitcher can expect to throw a lot of pitches, give up multiple runs, and end up needing his bullpen to enter the game earlier rather than later...
The other common counter-move in situations like this is for the pitcher to totally abandon what isn't working in favor of his trusted fastball. But not Jake. Instead, he instantly and without hesitation started started pitching to contact before the second batter of the game even stepped to the plate.
I'm in awe of this because of deGrom's ability to be that self-aware, assess the quality of his tool box and adjust to an effective strategy and execute with the sole purpose of surviving, keeping his team in the game and himself on the mound to be able to attack the following inning.
This is exactly what made Pedro Martinez so unique and amazing to watch.
It wasn't Pedro's fastball. It was his ability to stop his game, remain mentally strong, open his tool box, understand what he had working, and execute so he could give himself the best chance to get through any difficult moment.
In other words, as if deGrom wasn't physically talented enough to be an amazing pitcher, he's now thinking and reacting like Pedro, which has to be demoralizing for the the other team.
By the way, deGrom made the decision to pitch-to-contact at Coors Field, which for any other pitcher would probably be a suicide mission. For Jake, it meant using just seven pitches to get three ground outs on contact and end the first inning without letting up a hit or run.
Unfortunately for the Rockies, deGrom never lost his composure, he sharpened his tools, found what had been missing, and started blowing the ball by Colorado with pitches they had not seen during their first time through the batting order. In full-throttle deGrom, he started changing eye levels, pitching up, down, in and out, reached back when he needed for upper 90's fastballs, got strikes looking, and plenty of swings and misses on unhittable pitches out of the strike zone when ahead in the count.
He was brilliant... again. And, after all was said and done, he let up just two unimportant, runs (one earned), struck out seven, and pitched eight full innings. Again, just brilliant...
In terms of his overall season to date, he now owns the best ERA in baseball and is tied for the fifth-most strikeouts. Unfortunately, because a historically-bad offense had been behind him during the past six weeks, he has just five wins to show for his work. What's worse, the team is just 6-9 in games that he has started, despite him having a 1.51 ERA.
Hopefully, people allowed to vote for the Cy Young award understand how useless wins are when judging a pitcher's ability to pitch. If anything, it's an indication of the pitcher's ability to stay in the game long enough to see his team score more runs and protect the lead with whomever comes in from the bullpen.
I'm willing to concede that wins are not totally useless, but it involves so many other aspects of the team that are beyond the pitcher's control -- even after he's out of the game -- that ideally it has zero bearing on who should be considered the game's best pitcher over the course of that past season.
The truth of the situation is that if the Mets had even an average offense to date (as opposed to second-worst in the NL) and/or if their bullpen was just decent -- not a runaround train wreck during May -- deGrom would probably have at least nine wins (if not more).
If voters are being rational and fair, deGrom is currently the obvious choice to win the Cy Young. If they're not being rational and still thinking like voters from before 2010, Nationals ace Max Scherzer will stupidly get the award.
For what it's worth, Scherzer has 10 wins, despite giving up seven more runs than deGrom in the same number of starts against mostly the same teams.
Oh, and if Mr. or Mrs. MLB Voter intends to use WAR as their preferred metric for also determining the MVP, they may want to consider deGrom for that award as well...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!