Jacob deGrom and run support usually go together like peanut butter and olives or ice cream and anchovies.
Over the course of his two-straight National League Cy Young Award-winning seasons, deGrom has had little support from the Mets’ offense, which constantly leaves sterling start after dazzling performance with plenty left to be desired in the win column.
Since the start of the 2018 season — the 32-year-old’s first Cy Young campaign — he’s posted a minuscule 2.05 ERA, a WHIP of .932, and a strikeouts-to-walk ration of 5.87.
To put it simply, he’s been the best pitcher in baseball over that stretch. Yet, in those 66 starts, his win-loss record is a mediocre 21-17.
It’s a further indictment into how worthless of a statistic the win-loss record is, but it remains to be one of the first stats that is looked upon a pitchers’ stat line — and the frustration of the Mets’ inability to get wins for deGrom has been clear over the last two-plus seasons.
In 2018, deGrom received just 3.53 runs of support per game over 32 starts. Of the 61 starting pitchers who made at least 30 starts that year, only nine of them received fewer than four runs of support on average per start. And only Cole Hamels had an average run support smaller than deGrom’s mark.
The following season, deGrom once again made 32 starts and saw his run support improve by some thanks to some late-season surges by the Mets’ offense, but his 4.16 average runs of support were still the 10th-fewest amongst pitchers with at least 30 starts.
In both of those seasons, the Mets went a mind-numbing 14-18 in games deGrom started.
Call it complacency, call it pressure, but the Mets’ offense has seldom done their ace justice over the past two seasons.
The trend continued over his first two starts of the 2020 season. They scored zero runs for deGrom on Opening Day against the Atlanta Braves before posting three last week against the Boston Red Sox.
DeGrom’s statline? Eleven innings pitched, two earned runs on four hits with 12 strikeouts and — of course — two no-decisions.
Same old Mets.
But on Monday night in Atlanta, the remarkable happened: the Mets scored runs.
Seven of them, in fact, to deliver deGrom his first victory of the season after he went six innings while allowing two runs on five hits with 10 strikeouts.
The 7-2 victory ended a five-game losing streak, which is magnified even more considering the 60-game coronavirus-shortened schedule. But it also proved a reminder of what could have been if the Mets had just given deGrom a bit more run support.
Remember deGrom’s 21-17 record over his last 66 starts?
Had the Mets just scored four runs per game for him — which is still below the MLB average — deGrom’s record since the start of 2018 would be 59-3.
Suddenly, the conversation shifts from claiming that deGrom is one of the best pitchers in the game to making sure this stat is included on his Hall-of-Fame plaque in Cooperstown.