NY Sports Day
David Russell

Russell: Is Jacob deGrom Really a Cy Young Contender?

Neil Miller

Mickey Callaway has seen a pitcher done in my bad run support before. Jacob deGrom enters Thursday’s game with a 5-7 record despite a league-best 1.85 ERA. That’s what happens when you receive the third lowest run support among all National League starters.

Callaway was the Indians pitching coach when Corey Kluber won the 2014 AL Cy Young with a league high 18 wins and a 2.44 ERA. The next season, Kluber lost a league high 16 games although his ERA was a respectable 3.49. “I thought, and a lot of people thought, that Corey’s peripheral numbers were even better than when he won the Cy Young,” Callaway said. “So it definitely reminds me of that.”

The good news is deGrom has a strong chance at the Cy Young with the race seemingly between him and Max Scherzer. “The one thing that stands out this year for deGrom is deGrom has been so much better than everybody else at preventing runs,” Callaway said. “We’re talking about half of a run between him and the next guy.”

Thirty years ago, Cardinals southpaw Joe Magrane finished 5-9 with a league-leading 2.18 ERA. Magrane, who threw three complete game shutouts, was ignored during awards season. That was the year Orel Hershsier went 23-8 with a 2.26 ERA, 15 complete games and eight shutouts. And he broke Don Drysdale’s streak of consecutive scoreless innings.

Finishing second in the voting was Reds lefty Danny Jackson, who also went 23-8 with 15 complete games, and so shutouts.

David Cone went 20-3 with a 2.22 for the NL East champion Mets and finished third although he would win a Cy Young with the Royals in 1994.

It wasn’t just Magrane who was a tough luck loser. In 1987, Nolan Ryan had a league-best 2.76 ERA and somehow finished 8-16. Ryan, who never won the award, finished fifth in the Cy Young voting.

In a recent MLB.com poll of 27 BBWAA members, Scherzer received 20 votes for Cy Young. It’s not just that he has 15 wins. Scherzer is second in ERA, and leads the league in strikeouts and innings pitched. Once upon a time, deGrom was 4-0. In his past 13 starts, he’s gone 1-7 with a 1.89 ERA.

Perhaps deGrom is the next in a line of Mets pitchers who were constantly working with no run support like Jon Matlack and Ron Darling. Not that it was as extreme as this year, but when the Mets made the playoffs in 2016, deGrom went 7-8 with a 3.04 ERA.

In his career, deGrom is a solid 50-39 with a stellar 2.78 ERA. Jerry Koosman’s ERA with the Mets was 3.09 and Dwight Gooden’s was 3.10, although that includes some rough seasons in the early 90s.

For the Mets, the final two months should be about the development of young players as well as seeing if Michael Conforto can hit better. The remaining drama every few days, will be if deGrom is able to add to his Cy Young case


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