At first blush, the postponed game between the Mets and the Marlins, the worst teams in the National League East, seemed merely like a forgettable September matchup that would resume another day. But for Mets fans hoping for something to smile about come November, it’s entirely possible that Monday night’s postponement means one fewer start for Jacob deGrom to prove his Cy Young candidacy.
DeGrom, who was scratched from a Sunday start because of inclement weather, only to be postponed again Monday, now will pitch Tuesday, the team announced. Pitching on regular rest, that means the Mets’ ace will have only four starts left in his season, including Sunday, against Boston, where he’s slated to go up against American League Cy Young hopeful Chris Sale.
The repercussions are varied, and very much dependent on the Cy Young voters, who are culled from the Baseball Writers Association of America, and how the final few starts shake out. Right now, the biggest strike against deGrom is his record, 8-8, and certainly more starts mean more opportunities to gather enough wins to satisfy voters who value that particular statistic. No pitcher has won a Cy Young Award with fewer than 13 wins or with a losing record. That presents another wrinkle: Certainly, the Mets’ offense has left deGrom flapping in the wind many times, and there’s no guarantee that more starts, even with a strong performance, would translate to even a winning record.
DeGrom, though, seems to have actually gotten better in the last month or so, dropping his ERA from 1.85 on Aug. 3, to 1.68 (actually 1.676) after his last start, on Sept. 3. If the season were over, he’d have the 10th-best ERA of any pitcher in the lively ball era, which began in 1920, and a handful of strong performances could catapult him up that list. In four starts, deGrom could reasonably eclipse Carl Hubbell (1.662) and Zack Greinke (1.657). In five, he would have an outside chance at hopping another three spots, all the way up to Greg Maddux (1.631).
Another factor that certain voters could look at is innings pitched, and deGrom, at 188, should easily hit that 200-inning benchmark. Of the three realistic National League candidates – deGrom, Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola – Scherzer has a slight advantage there, with 202 2/3 innings pitched. Scherzer also has more wins (17-6) and a better WHIP (0.88 to deGrom’s 0.96). DeGrom’s ERA is 0.61 better than Nola’s and 0.63 better than Scherzer’s. Scherzer has more strikeouts, deGrom has fewer walks, and according to ESPN, Nola has the highest WAR.
Notes & quotes: Monday’s game was moved to Wednesday as part of a single-admission doubleheader, beginning at 4:10 p.m. Only Wednesday game tickets will be valid for that game, the Mets said. Fans with Monday tickets can exchange them for a ticket of comparable value to another 2018 game. Zack Wheeler and Jason Vargas will start in the doubleheader, and Steven Matz will go Thursday. Noah Syndergaard will face the Red Sox on Friday, while Saturday’s pitcher is to be announced.