New York Mets ace starting pitcher Jacob deGrom had a stellar 2018 season, claiming the National League Cy Young award. So far 2019 is looking promising as an encore to that performance.
In the top of the third inning on Wednesday, April 3 against the Marlins in Miami, deGrom helped himself out by smacking a misplaced fastball over the right-field bullpen fence. The solo shot padded deGrom’s 1-0 lead, which was extended to 6-0 before the Marlins made a comeback attempt against the Mets’ bullpen in the bottom of the ninth. The comeback fell a little short as the Mets escaped 6-4.
To put an exclamation point on the evening, deGrom also pitched seven innings of two-hit shutout ball while only issuing one walk and striking out 14 Marlins en route to the win.
It’s the second time in his career that deGrom has left a park, with his last home run coming during the 2017 season.
Wednesday was deGrom’s second start of the 2019 season. In his first start, a victory over the Washington Nationals on March 28, deGrom struck out 10 Washington batters while not allowing any runs and only walking one. deGrom will enter his next start with a 2-0 record and a 0.00 ERA, both bests for the National League. Perhaps more importantly, both of deGrom’s victories have come over NL East rivals.
Mets fans should get to enjoy play like this for at least three more seasons after this one. deGrom is signed through the 2023 season, with a $32.5 million team option for 2024. The contract does include an opt-out clause for deGrom after the 2022 season, however. If deGrom can replicate Wednesday night’s results, he may want to invoke his option to see if he can get an even more lucrative deal on the free market.
Two starts is a small sample size, but it’s hard to envision deGrom not being a serious contender for the NL Cy Young again in 2019 if he stays healthy. The last player to win consecutive NL Cy Young awards was the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Linceum. Lincecum claimed those prizes in the 2008-09 season.
deGrom’s health will be important for more than just his chances of repeating as NL Cy Young award winner. The Mets are trying to keep pace in the NL East with a Philadelphia Phillies team that just suffered its first loss of the season on Wednesday afternoon. Currently a half-game up on Philadelphia, the Mets will need deGrom to turn in many more performances throughout the season to stay on top or within striking distance of Philadelphia.
With the home run deGrom forms a trio of NL pitchers who have already gone yard on the young season. Arizona Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke hit two home runs in his start on Monday.
At the same time, the San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner added to his legacy.
deGrom already has a Rookie of the Year and Cy Young award to his credit. If he can continue to pitch and hit the way he did in Miami Wednesday night, an NL MVP award might be in his future as well.