Over the past decade there have been more than 22,500 MLB games played, which amounts to more than 45,000 starts by pitchers. Among them, just 41 (0.09%) finished an outing with at least 14 strikeouts and no walks. There were no such starts by any player during the entire 2011 or 2020 seasons.
And yet, New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom accomplished the feat twice in five games this season. But even with a 0.571 WHIP and allowing just two earned runs so far, the Mets are only 2-3 in deGrom’s starts, making his 0.51 ERA the lowest for a single month without a winning record since 1985, per ESPN.
After missing a start due to back tightness, deGrom takes the mound Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his last outing, on April 28, deGrom gave up three hits in six innings, struck out nine batters, and got dinged with a loss. It was the third time in the past three seasons that the Mets have lost a deGrom start 1-0.
By now, deGrom must be used to pitching well and not seeing results in the win column. He’s the only starter to ever win the Cy Young Award in a full season while winning fewer than 13 games, and he did it in back-to-back years. Since 2018, he leads MLB in quality starts (at least six innings thrown with three or fewer earned runs) that resulted in a no-decision or a loss.
It’s not that deGrom is necessarily the most unsupported pitcher in the league. Of 48 players who have pitched at least 250 innings since 2018, he ranks fifth from the bottom in run support per nine innings, according to FanGraphs: less than ideal, but not an outlier. It’s that no pitcher anywhere close to as good as deGrom is anywhere close to as unfortunate.
The silver lining for deGrom is that the five-year, $137.5 million extension that he signed in 2019 means that he will at least be paid handsomely for his efforts. He’s worth every penny, though, as each deGrom start has become something of an event for Mets fans. Games he’s pitched in 2021 have seen 20% more viewers, 31% more post-game show viewers and 41% more pre-game show viewers than non-deGrom starts, per SNY.
Amazingly, at 15-13, the Mets are a tied with Philadelphia for first place in the NL East, a division so beset by mediocre parity that each team is separated by only two wins. Despite the standings, they have a run scored differential of minus five, though it may be no surprise to the staff ace.
(This story has been updated the Mets record in the last paragraph.)