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Jacob deGrom strikes out 12, ups record to 7-7 as he makes case for Cy Young Award

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch against the Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium on Monday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The numbers are staggering, often a little bit ridiculous.

Jacob deGrom, with his 1.81 ERA and the 195 strikeouts after the Mets’ 8-5 win over the Yankees at the Stadium. He has held batters to 17-for-110 with runners in scoring position and entered Monday night’s game with a 0.96 WHIP. Everything speaks to his dominance, and to the fact that he will be heavily involved in any Cy Young conversation.

Except, of course, that other staggering number. You know, staggering in a bad way.

“I don’t value win-loss [record] anymore, or as much. I think if we if we ended the season right now, [deGrom] should win it,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Monday of the Cy Young. “I think it’s probably twice as impressive to see what he’s done with the run support he’s gotten compared to other pitchers who might get tons of runs…[It’s] probably one of the most impressive things I’ve seen a pitcher do in a long, long time.”

In another strong — if not flawless — performance, deGrom Monday climbed all the way to mediocrity, at least as far as his record is concerned, reaching 7-7. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits, with two walks and 12 strikeouts — his seventh double-digit strikeout game of the year. His ERA actually went up from 1.77, though it still leads the majors. DeGrom has allowed three runs or fewer in 21 straight starts, and three walks or fewer in 42 straight. 

DeGrom also (finally) benefitted from some run support, as the Mets hit five home runs behind him. He took the mound with a two-run lead for the first time since August of last year.

“I want to win a Cy Young,” deGrom said. “I think that every starting pitcher or pitcher in general wants to win as a personal goal. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it…It’s another thing that’s out of my control. I just go out there and do what I can do.”

So here’s how things stand: Every valuation of what makes a pitcher great indicates that deGrom is having a season for the ages. But despite the fact that sabermetrics have made a pitcher’s win/loss record somewhat passé, it’s still something that’s been historically tied to the Cy Young Award, and often valued by those who vote on it. (The award is voted on by a select group of members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America — one representative for each ballclub.)

If the season ended before Monday’s game, deGrom would have to beat long odds — there’s never been a Cy Young Award-winner with a losing record. As it stands, there’s never been won with under 13 wins, and that doesn’t necessarily seem in the cards with 10 or so starts left in deGrom’s season. His closest competition is Max Scherzer, with a higher ERA (2.19), but a shiny 15-5 record.

Callaway said that deGrom wouldn’t be under any innings restrictions. They’ll preserve him when they can, but the Mets intend to give their ace every chance to win the Cy Young (except maybe run support, depending on how the night is going.).

“I think that he’s probably going to experience something he’s never experienced before,” Callaway said. “He’s going to be in a race for something else and it’s going to mean a lot to him. He’s going to feel that and there’s going to be even more pressure on those last five starts of the year than he’s ever felt before.”

The numbers say he’s somehow both a shoe-in and a dark horse — a perfect encapsulation of his season so far.

NL Cy Young Award battle

                  DeGrom    Scherzer
Wins                  7             15

Losses               7              5

ERA                  1.81         2.19

IP                      159       168 2/3             

SO                    195          227

WHIP                .969       .883

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