After Jacob deGrom fired off seven dominant innings against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, the New York Mets‘ official web page headline declared, “deGrom pads ROY resume with win over Mariners.” There they go again. A so-called “journalist” shilling for his team, trying to make a mediocre team sound better than it is.
But then you look at the numbers, and you watch deGrom every five days, and you compare him to the other rookies in the NL, and you realize — deGrom truly is a legitimate ROY candidate.
DeGrom is now 4-5 with a 3.01 ERA and a 8.8 K/9, and his FIP is an impressive 3.10. He started off strong after his recall on May 15, but ran into a stretch of three rough starts in early June. He gutted his way through the first two, but couldn’t stop the bleeding against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 16, allowing six runs on 12 hits in 4.1 innings. DeGrom seemed to use that start as a learning experience. Since then, he’s been lights-out.
In his six starts since then, he’s gone seven innings four times. He’s gone 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 39.1 innings. He has three above-average major league pitches that keep getting better. His fastball is 92-95 mph, his changeup is starting to look unhittable, and his curve is becoming a serious weapon against right-handers. One could argue, at this moment, that Jacob deGrom is the ace of a solid Mets rotation.
The Mets want to be careful with him in his rookie season, and he’s on an innings limit of about 180-185. So far, deGrom has thrown 112 innings combined between the minor leagues and majors. As a result, at some point during the season, he may have to move to the bullpen. But if he keeps pitching the way he is, his ROY resume would still look impressive.
His chief competition for the award would be Billy Hamilton, the fleet-footed outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds. He has 39 stolen bases to go along with his .280/.313/.422. As an everyday player, he’s probably the front-runner. Other candidates include Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings, who’s struggled with injuries this year, and outfielder Gregory Polanco, who helped spark the Pittsburgh Pirates when he was promoted to the major leagues.
If deGrom continues to dominate his opponents, he could end up having a better year than all of them. Maybe it’s not so crazy to think of deGrom as the 2014 NL ROY.