On July 22, the Mets are planning to dedicate a statue to Tom Seaver outside Citi Field.
Hopefully, they will leave room for another one that will need to go up in about 8-10 years. For Jacob deGrom.
DeGrom continues to find new ways to showcase his greatness. The most recent example is his 15-strikeout, no-walk shutout of the Nationals on Friday night. DeGrom gave up two hits, the same total he had himself. The Nationals looked like Little Leaguers against a big-leaguer.
The "MVP" chants from the COVID reduced crowd of 8,130 were heard loud and clear throughout Mets nation. How many of you imagined you were there, perhaps chanting along in your living room?
As much as deGrom is chasing a third Cy Young, he also is chasing the best pitcher in franchise history — Seaver, whose nickname, The Franchise, says it all.
On Friday, deGrom lowered his career ERA to 2.55, the best in franchise history (minimum 1,000 innings). DeGrom broke a virtual tie with Seaver, whose Mets ERA was 2.57.
In his previous start, a 14-strikeout wipeout of the Rockies, deGrom struck out nine batters in a row. That’s one off Seaver’s all-time record, set in 1970 against San Diego.
DeGrom is doing all of this while wearing a No. 41 patch on his uniform sleeve, as all the Mets are honoring Seaver, who died last Aug. 31.
And you know who would have been enjoying this most of all?
"Tom would be pulling for deGrom because he was his kind of guy," Mets alumni director Jay Horwitz, the team’s former longtime public relations man, said on Saturday.
Horwitz recalled that a young righthander popped up on Seaver’s radar during deGrom’s NL Rookie of the Year season in 2014.
"I just remember my conversations with Tom that year," Horwitz said. "I would speak to him twice a month and he would say, ‘How’s deGrom doing? How’s deGrom doing?’ I know he would have been pulling for him if Tom were still here."
Seaver’s last visit to Citi Field came during the All-Star Game in 2013, when Matt Harvey was the king of Queens.
Seaver’s health deteriorated after that, but he still saw something in deGrom the next year from his Napa Valley vineyard in California.
"Tom didn’t watch a lot of TV. He followed the boxscores," Horwitz said. "He just liked the way he approached the game. There was no B.S. — he just liked the way he’s on the mound, gets the ball and pitches."
After the game vs. Colorado, deGrom said he wasn’t aware he had struck out nine in a row. When told he was one away from tying Seaver’s record, he smiled and said: "Well, that would have been nice to reach. But I fell a little short."
"I think Tom would have been hoping he would get it," Horwitz said. "Because I think he would have been proud that someone like him would break his record. Tom just admired the techniques on the mound, how he pitched, how he conducted himself off the field, how he represented the organization. It kind of struck me watching him pitch that the way he approaches the game is the way Tom approached the game."
Can there be a second The Franchise? Probably not. But people are running out of superlatives to describe deGrom, who has a 0.31 ERA in four starts this season. DeGrom has allowed one earned run while scoring three and driving in two himself.
As Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman posted on Twitter on Saturday: "We’ll be telling our grandkids about this man!"
Just as grandkids today are told about No. 41.
Seaver will always be the greatest pitcher in Mets history. Young Doc Gooden was a phenomenon the likes of which will not be seen again, with his 276 strikeouts in 218 innings as a 19-year-old in 1985, and several more eye-popping years before drugs scuttled his Hall of Fame trajectory.
Seaver was 198-124 as a Met from 1967-77 and 1983. DeGrom, who turns 33 on June 19, is 72-52. But you know why he doesn’t have more wins and you know why it's not relevant.
Seaver was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1967, deGrom in 2014, when he caught Seaver’s eye from across the country.
Seaver had three NL Cy Young Awards. DeGrom has two so far.
Seaver finished second in the 1969 NL MVP vote, a mere 22 points behind Willie McCovey. DeGrom’s highest MVP finish was his fifth-place showing in 2018, although the fans at Citi Field on Friday night picked an early favorite in the 2021 race.
In his 12 years with the Mets, Seaver had far more complete games (171) and shutouts (44) than deGrom’s four and two, respectively. It’s a reflection of the era, not a jab at deGrom. If you saw deGrom’s determination to finish Friday’s masterpiece, you know he would fit into any era.
The only remaining question is where deGrom fits in Mets history when he's done. If he keeps this up, it’ll be outside Citi Field, his likeness etched in bronze, right next to The Franchise.
Jake and The Franchise
Side-by-side comparison of Jacob deGrom and Tom Seaver as Mets:
Seaver Category deGrom
1967-‘77, 1983 Years with team 2014-’21*
1967 Rookie of Year 2014
3 (1969, ’73, ’75) Cy Young Awards 2 (2018-’19)
2nd, 1969 Highest finish in MVP vote 5th, 2018
198-124 (.615) Won-loss (percentage) 72-52 (.581)
2.57 ERA 2.55
401 Appearances 187
3045 2/3 Innings 1198 2/3
2541 Strikeouts 1409
7.5 Strikeouts per 9 IP 10.6
171 Complete games 4
44 Shutouts 2
1 Saves 0
.150, 6 Batting HRs .199, 3 HRs
3-3, 2.85 Postseason 3-1, 2.88
1 World Series rings 0
*Signed through 2023 with team option for 2024
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