Jacob deGrom has a strong case to win the NL Cy Young, but he can set a historic mark with a strong finish.
The shift toward devaluing pitcher wins was started in some ways by Felix Hernandez’s 2010 Cy Young season, when he went 13-12 but led the American League in ERA (2.27) and innings (249.2). This year’s test case is Jacob deGrom, who is 8-8 with a 1.68 ERA through 28 starts pitching for a floundering New York Mets team.
On Monday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, deGrom took another hard-luck no-decision despite allowing just one run over six innings. He also tied a modern era MLB record by allowing three or fewer runs in his 25th straight start. He’s 6-8 with a 1.53 ERA and 212 strikeouts (170.1 innings) over that span.
Since the mound was lowered in 1968, and Bob Gibson’s remarkable 1.12 ERA that year, Dwight Gooden’s 1.53 ERA in 1985 is the proverbial modern era ERA record.
According to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports, here are the top 10 single season ERA marks of that aforementioned modern era.
- Dwight Gooden, 1.53, 1985
- Greg Maddux, 1.56, 1994
- Greg Maddux, 1.63, 1995
- Zack Greinke, 1.66, 2015
- Nolan Ryan, 1.69, 1981
- Pedro Martinez, 1.74, 2000
- Ron Guidry, 1.74, 1978
- Tom Seaver, 1.76, 1971
- Jake Arrieta, 1.77, 2015
- Clayton Kershaw, 1.77, 2014
So deGrom sits between Ryan and Greinke right now, with five starts to go this year if he stays on schedule. His next three starts will be against the Philadelphia Phillies (Sept. 9 and Sept. 19) and the Boston Red Sox (Sept. 14), followed by the Atlanta Braves on Sept 25 and the Miami Marlins on the final day of the season.
Based on his average of 6.2 innings this year, and 33.1 innings from here on out, Snyder laid out what deGrom would have to do to set the modern ERA record.
-If deGrom gave up no more earned runs this year, his ERA would end up 1.42.
-If deGrom gave up one more earned run this year, his ERA would end up 1.46.
-If deGrom gave up two more earned runs this year, his ERA would end up 1.50.
-If deGrom gave up three more earned runs this year, his ERA would end up 1.55.
Let’s break things down by how deGrom has fared against his remaining opponents this year.
vs. Phillies: 1-0, 0.00 ERA over three starts (18 innings)
vs. Braves: 0-2, 1.09 ERA over five starts (33 innings)
Red Sox: Has not faced
vs. Marlins: 0-1, 3.32 ERA over three starts (19 innings)
That’s a combined ERA of 1.41, as deGrom has faced those three division opponents a total of 11 times. For what it’s worth his output against the Braves to this point lines up perfectly to the number of scheduled starts he has left, and almost perfectly to the innings he’d pitch based on his season average per start.
More innings would allow for some leeway to allow more runs. But as great as he has been this year, the odds are decidedly against deGrom surpassing Gooden’s 1.53 ERA and setting the modern record. But records are made to be broken, and there’s nothing wrong with rooting for deGrom to set a new ERA mark.