Jacob deGrom was actually just getting warmed up when he pitched to a 0.66 ERA this year in spring training.
The real season began for the Mets on April 5, and the right-hander has continued manhandling opponents with his 100-mph fastball and filthy slider. He will take a 0.50 ERA and a 30-inning scoreless streak to the mound for his Saturday start against the Phillies. Over his past 21 innings pitched, he has allowed just five hits and struck out 35, and his place as the game’s best pitcher is unquestioned.
“Everything is just ridiculous,” manager Luis Rojas said Friday when asked about deGrom’s season. “It’s something that everyone should come and watch. You’ve got to see Jake. It is historical what he is doing.”
Health might be the only factor that can stop deGrom from completing a season that would rank among the greatest in baseball history. Already, deGrom has been derailed by right side soreness and elbow and shoulder discomfort this season, but has missed only two starts.
The sense of awe only seems to grow with each deGrom start.
“It’s a guy that has an unbelievable talent, like every pitch is special,” Rojas said. “Even the opposing teams are on the top step watching. Something special is happening in baseball and we get to see it every five days.”
Some numbers to digest heading into deGrom Day:
Plus size: DeGrom entered Friday with an unfathomable 774 ERA plus, which measures an earned run average against the rest of the pitchers in the league. An average pitcher has a 100 ERA plus. A pitcher with a 125 ERA plus would be 25 percent above the league average. The modern record is held by Pedro Martinez, who pitched to a 1.74 ERA for the Red Sox in 2000, when the American League average was 4.92. That translated into a 291 ERA plus.
King of swing: At the plate, deGrom has driven in six runs, two more than he’s allowed from the mound. He is 11-for-27 (.407) at the plate with an .852 OPS. DeGrom’s previous best season offensively came in 2019, when he hit two homers and finished with a .569 OPS. A superb fielder, deGrom may have a hold on a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in addition to the MVP and Cy Young award.
Gibby comparison: Bob Gibson’s 1968 season is widely considered the best by a starting pitcher in modern baseball history. Gibson posted a 1.12 ERA that season. Here’s a look at how deGrom compares to Gibson after 12 starts for each: ERA — deGrom 0.50, Gibson 1.52; WHIP — deGrom, 0.51, Gibson 0.88; Opposing batting average — deGrom .113, Gibson, .181; Opposing OPS — deGrom .353, Gibson .480.
Can’t touch this: Over his last 11 starts this season, deGrom has retired the side in order in the first inning. DeGrom walked Bryce Harper in the first inning of his first start of the season and since then has retired 34 straight in that frame. He is the first Mets pitcher to retire at least 30 consecutive batters in the first inning.
Citi Slicker: In his last 30 starts at Citi Field, deGrom has allowed more than three earned runs just once, posting a 1.52 ERA at home since May 1, 2019. His 2.08 career home ERA is the best among active pitchers (minimum 500 innings pitched).
Mr. Dickey’s neighborhood: R.A. Dickey owns the franchise record with 32 ²/₃ consecutive scoreless innings pitched in 2012. DeGrom will enter his Saturday start with 30 consecutive scoreless innings (since Dickey’s streak, MLB has decided not to recognize fractions of innings in scoreless streaks). It’s still too early to start thinking about Orel Hershiser’s MLB-record 59 straight scoreless innings in 1988, but if any pitcher can challenge that mark, it might be deGrom.
Rarefied air: DeGrom owns a 1.89 ERA over his past 88 starts, since the start of 2018, which is easily the best mark in the major leagues over that stretch among pitchers who have thrown at least 400 innings. Hyun Jin Ryu is next with a 2.49 ERA since the start of 2016. Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Greg Maddux and Clayton Kershaw are the only pitchers to record ERAs lower than deGrom’s over an 88-start stretch.
Marooned: Opponents have only two hits against deGrom this season with runners in scoring position. Overall, hitters own a .087/.185/.130 slash line with runners in scoring position against the Mets ace.