Jacob deGrom wants to win the Cy Young Award this year, because he wants to win the Cy Young Award every year. But if he does so — if he completes the three-peat as the best pitcher in the National League — he says it wouldn’t really feel the same.
“There definitely has to be some difference there,” deGrom, the two-time defending NL Cy Young winner, said Monday. “Twelve starts versus 32 or however many you get, 33 sometimes. I think that’s less than half. There’s a lot that can happen in any given start. You normally play 162 games and 200 innings. I don’t think it would feel the same, but it’s definitely still a goal.”
Such is life in baseball right now, when nobody really knows what to expect in a 60-game season in the middle of a pandemic or how to view performances — and accomplishments — through that lens.
An individual award won’t carry the same weight, in deGrom’s eyes. But he does not apply the same logic to the eventual World Series champion.
“That’s a team coming together under these circumstances and figuring out a way to win,” deGrom said. “That is a team effort that would take everybody honestly following these guidelines to staying healthy and being able to stay on the field. That’s something you would definitely celebrate.”
One aspect of all this that is almost normal for deGrom: He expects to be built up to about 100 pitches for Opening Day on July 24. He pitched two innings in a simulated game Sunday and should have time for three more intrasquad/exhibition outings before the regular season begins. His goal is to throw about 85 pitches in his last preseason tuneup, he said.
He laid the foundation for that speed-up ramp-up during baseball’s coronavirus shutdown by continuing to throw regularly — just as he does during the offseason. Patrick Mazeika, a Mets minor-league catcher and deGrom’s fellow Stetson University product, was around to catch him. He communicated regularly with first-year Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.
DeGrom said he hasn’t considered the possibility that in a short season — when his workload won’t be anywhere near his usual 200-plus innings total — that the Mets might be able to lean on him a little more, maybe have him start more frequently than once every five games. But he knows even a couple of bad starts can tilt the season in the wrong direction for a starter or his team.
“Hopefully I got those two or three bad starts out in the bullpen sessions at home,” deGrom said.
Of course, all of the above is relevant only if the season actually happens, which isn’t a certainty.
DeGrom said he is confident that will happen. While he was home during the hiatus, he said he and his family followed all of the recommended safety measures and “stayed home quite a bit,” and he didn’t have any hesitation about participating once camp restarted.
It has been so far, so good in the past few days at Citi Field, he said.
“So far I’ve been comfortable,” deGrom said. “We’re spaced out really well here. How the workouts have been going, where there’s a couple different groups, I’ve felt safe and comfortable so far.
“I think everybody would like to play. I think that’s the goal, to play baseball. So far, what I’ve seen here with the steps that we’re taking — I can’t speak for other clubs or whatnot — but I feel like if we follow the rules that are set in place here, there should be a good chance of seeing baseball.”