The beginning of Jacob deGrom's major-league career has progressed from being impressive to finding him in the conversation for NL Rookie of the Year and finally all the way to seeing him become the front-runner for the award.
The righthander is coming off one of his finest outings yet, which saw him take a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a 4-2 Mets victory on Saturday. With a standout stat line (6-5, 2.77 ERA, 90 SO, 1.22 WHIP in 941/3 innings), the 26-year-old's early returns have fans buzzing about his future in the rotation.
Adding the league's top rookie award after the season isn't a lock, though. Here's a look at a few talented young players who could still make a case for the honor over deGrom, who will make his 16th big league start today against the Nationals, during the season's final eight weeks.
Chase Anderson: Diamondbacks
Anderson shares many similarities with deGrom. He's a 26-year-old righthanded starting pitcher with a decent win-loss record (6-4) but terrific numbers through his first 13 major league starts -- 3.19 ERA, 63 strikeouts and a 1.30 WHIP through 731/3 innings.
Billy Hamilton: Reds
At 23, Hamilton entered this season as the most-hyped stolen base threat in ages thanks to his minor league record 155 in 2012. He's second the NL in that category with 43, but the switch hitter is batting a surprisingly solid .272 as the regular centerfielder, too.
Jeurys Familia: Mets
Could deGrom's teammate in the bullpen beat him out? It's unlikely, but the 24-year-old boasts a sterling 1.96 ERA in 55 innings. The righthander has kept the ball in the park -- just one home run allowed -- and is fanning batters at a rate of 7.5 per nine innings.