The New York Mets should be in the national baseball news today as the postseason awards start this afternoon. It’s just another step in the Mets’ climb toward relevancy.
In an informal poll of voters, pitcher Jacob deGrom is favored to become the Mets’ fifth rookie of the year winner, joining Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). For those believing in omens, the Mets played in the World Series within two years of each previous winner.
To say deGrom could be the next Seaver or Gooden is a stretch, but there is a lot to like about him and it isn’t farfetched to say he’s ahead of Zack Wheeler, and he’s definitely part of the core of young arms.
What was most impressive about deGrom was his composure and ability to command his secondary pitchers. These are things Wheeler must improve. Wheeler also has a tendency to run up his pitch count, frequently forcing an early exit. The Mets could count on deGrom getting into the sixth inning.
A ninth-round pick in the 2010 amateur draft, deGrom made the first of his 22 starts, May 15, and made an immediate impression by giving up just one run in seven innings in a 1-0 loss to the Yankees. He gave us a glimpse of his 96-mph. fastball and darting slider with six strikeouts and only walked one and gave up four hits.
DeGrom turned out to be the kind of workhorse the Mets need by working into the sixth or longer in 19 starts. Ten times he took a game into the seventh or longer.
DeGrom worked 140.1 innings this year, but in this era of pitcher preservation – not recognized by the Giants and Madison Bumgarner – he was pulled from his last start against Houston.
“Obviously, I wanted to make my last one, but they talked to me about it,’’ deGrom said at the time. “The decision was made for me not to, and to end the year healthy. I respect that decision and I look forward to next year.’’
The decision was made in large part by a season-low 92 mph., in his proceeding start against Atlanta, and manager Terry Collins said with a 9-6 record and 2.63 ERA, there was nothing left for him to prove. The lower speed is indicative of a tiring arm.
“We explained the big picture,’’ Collins said. “One more start isn’t going to vary any votes. One more start isn’t going to show everybody that he belongs here.
“One more start could lead to some trouble. The big picture was to make sure when this season was over that those five [rotation] guys were going to be healthy. We think we’ve reached that point.’’
By votes, Collins meant from the Baseball Writers Association, which concludes its voting after the season. Postseason performance is not included, for one reason it gives some players a larger body of work. For example, if the postseason were included, Bumgarner would easily win the NL Cy Young over the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
The other National League candidates are Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton and St. Louis’ Kolten Wong. Hamilton fizzled at the end and Wong wasn’t a clear-cut standout, although he was impressive in the postseason.