Mets are flushing away Jacob deGrom greatness: Sherman

Jacob deGrom is fine. Financially, he does not have a state-of-the-art contract, considering all the deferrals in it. But, no matter how it is dispensed, deGrom is still to earn $33.5 million this

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Jacob deGrom is fine.

Financially, he does not have a state-of-the-art contract, considering all the deferrals in it. But, no matter how it is dispensed, deGrom is still to earn $33.5 million this year and the same amount next year, after which he can opt out to seek further riches, or just live with another $30.5 million in 2023 and potentially $32.5 million in 2024 if the Mets pick up an option.

Personally, deGrom will benefit from playing in an age when few (if any) annual award voters or Hall of Fame voters care much about pitching wins. A starter once needed, say, 21 wins to capture a Cy Young Award. That is how many deGrom won combined in 2018-19, yet he nabbed the NL Cy Young each year. Two or three more seasons of doing exactly what he has been doing will all but assure his day at Cooperstown — even if he never reaches 100 career victories.

The problem is not deGrom’s lack of wins. It is the lack of wins by the Mets when their greatest asset starts.

DeGrom is perhaps the most valuable entity in the sport — the unquestioned ace. His day is supposed to be “Win Day” for a team, especially when he performs like a No. 1 starter — and he is in at least Year 4 of performing like the best starter in the sport.

Consider that in the last full 162-game season — 2019 — there were six pitchers who made at least 20 starts of six or more innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer. The Astros were 21-3 when Gerrit Cole did it and 16-4 when Justin Verlander did. The Astros and Diamondbacks combined to go 16-4 when Zack Greinke, who was traded during the season, did it. The Dodgers were 18-3 when Hyun Jin Ryu did it. The Indians were 15-5 when Shane Bieber did it.

Jacob deGrom
Corey Sipkin

The Mets were 13-9 when deGrom did it — and missed the playoffs by three games. In the shortened 2020 season, the Mets were 5-3 when deGrom reached those levels — the worst winning percentage (.625) of the six pitchers who registered those numbers at least eight times.

A flawed team like the Cubs actually made the playoffs because they were a combined 16-1 when Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks attained those numbers. The Mets again missed the playoffs by three games last season.

“Ultimately, you want the team to win,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “That is what you go for every day. That is Jake’s goal. Every time Jake takes the ball, he wants the team to win.”

It just isn’t happening enough. DeGrom is scheduled for a matinee outing Thursday, weather permitting. The Mets are 0-2 this year when he starts. DeGrom threw six scoreless innings in his first start. Going into Wednesday, teams that got a start of at least six innings and no runs were 31-7 — and one of the losses came when two starters did it in the same game. DeGrom yielded one run in eight innings in his second start. There were six games this year in which a starter pitched at least eight innings and gave up one or no runs. The Mets, in deGrom’s start, are the only team with a loss.

Imagine Tom Brady delivering a bunch of 24-for-28, 310-yard, three-touchdown, no-interception games and his team losing just about all of them. DeGrom is the majors’ best starter and the second-best in Mets history. He is in the midst of a Roy Halladay-esque run of not being deterred by a late beginning to his career and authoring an extended run of plaque-worthy dominance.

The beneficiary should be the Mets. They are receiving consistent length and excellence from a starter at a time when that is rare. And they are just making too little out of it. DeGrom has a lifetime 2.59 ERA, yet the Mets are just 96-89 in his games — just 36-42 since 2018: seasons in which he won the Cy Young, won the Cy Young again, finished third for the Cy Young and has a 0.64 in two starts this year.

In that time frame, deGrom has 37 games working at least seven innings and giving up two runs or fewer. No other pitcher has more than 27. The Mets are 21-16 in those games, a .568 winning percentage. The rest of the majors is 1,172-322, a .784 winning percentage, when they have a starter reach those parameters.

No starter achieves genius more often than deGrom. No team makes less of such genius than the Mets. It has not cost deGrom money or accolades. It has probably cost the Mets a visit or two to the playoffs.

Greatness is a terrible thing to waste.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Joel Sherman

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