What do you make of the fact that, in Jacob deGrom’s first start following the death of Tom Seaver, his ERA wound up at 1.69?
Even if you’re not the spiritual type, you must concede the obvious: It means the Mets’ current ace possesses a good chance of matching the three Cy Young awards collected by the franchise’s all-time ace.
It means, buckle up for a fun September with this pitcher and this team, no matter whether they can replicate the miracle accomplished by Seaver and the Mets in 1969.
“The main goal is to put us in position to win,” deGrom said Sunday, after he dominated the Phillies en route to a 14-1 Mets victory at Citi Field, “and if I’m able to do that and take the ball every fifth day and put us in position, that’s a personal goal I feel like definitely helps the team.”
“That” would be the third consecutive honor given to each league’s best pitcher; Seaver won his Cys in the non-consecutive seasons of ’69, 1973 and 1975. DeGrom’s seven-inning, three-hit, one-run, two-walks, 12-strikeouts mowdown of the Phillies — featuring an incredible 35 swings and misses — placed him squarely in the mix, alongside guys like former teammate Zack Wheeler (who will face the Mets for the Phillies on Monday) and the Cubs’ Yu Darvish, with three weeks and probably four more starts left; deGrom said that he and the Mets’ staff have been discussing a plan by which he would pitch every five days rather than just every five games.
“He should be a Hall of Famer. He’s tremendous,” Pete Alonso, who homered twice, said of his teammate, and this was not the time to explain to Alonso that a player actually must participate in 10 Major League Baseball seasons to gain consideration for Cooperstown. Like Bluto in “Animal House,” Alonso was on a roll: “He blows me away almost every single time. He’s electric. The way the ball comes out of his hand, it’s different. There’s no one I’ve seen that is like Jake.”
The 25-year-old Alonso naturally never saw Seaver, nor did deGrom ever meet him despite being in the organization for more than 10 years; Seaver’s illness sadly kept him away from the ballpark since before deGrom’s 2014 arrival in the big leagues. Not surprisingly, deGrom verbally blushed when a reporter posited that modern fans viewed him the way their predecessors did Seaver.
“I really would’ve liked to have met him and talked to him some,” deGrom said. “But I think he’s going to be the all-time great here. You look at his numbers, complete games (231), I don’t think I’m ever reaching that and just what he did here. Very impressive. It’s an honor to be compared to somebody like Tom and what he was able to accomplish in his career.”
If the game has changed to the point where deGrom owns three career complete games, he has performed at an elite level for his time just as did Seaver. This month provides another opportunity for deGrom to bolster his Hall of Fame résumé: Can he guide his team, winners of four of five and absolutely in this expanded playoff mix if currently not qualifying, to its first October since 2016 (and his first since 2015) while capturing another individual trophy in the process?
Pitching in the ’15 postseason, deGrom said, “was the most fun I had playing baseball. I would definitely enjoy [going back].”
The right-hander owns a career 2.48 ERA for September/October (regular season), his second-best month after July (1.79). Since 2018, that number is a microscopic 1.52.
“It’s just unbelievable to see him pitch,” Luis Rojas said. “Every outing he goes out there, his stuff, it’s better.”
P.S. The guy who relieved deGrom, Brad Brach, pitched a shutout eighth inning to lower his ERA to … 1.69, also. Are you any more spiritual now?