After 20 innings of the 2021 version of Jacob deGrom, New York Mets fans have every reason to expect nothing but the best year out of him. Although just 1-1 with a tough-luck loss and no-decision, he has already struck out an astonishing 35 batters this season.
For those of you who weren’t Matholympiads in fifth grade like me—until they kicked me out for being so dreadful at fractions—that’s a rate of 15.8 per nine innings of work.
It’s a rate deGrom cannot sustain even if he does currently hold the sixth-best strikeouts per nine rate of a career. However, he doesn’t need to strike out batters at this rate to reach 300.
The Mets have never had a 300 strikeout season
Believe it or not, the Mets have never had a pitcher reach 300 strikeouts in a season. Tom Seaver’s high of 289 in 1971 is the franchise record.
The Mets have actually only ever had two other players surpass 250: Dwight Gooden twice and deGrom a pair of times already, too.
Getting to 300 would put deGrom in rare company. Certainly a challenge, it’s not completely impossible based on how the game is trending.
In 2019, Houston Astros teammates Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander both got there. Cole did so with a rate of 13.8 per nine innings. He finished the season with a league-best 326. For Verlander, he got right to 300 with a rate of 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
If deGrom finishes the year with 200 innings pitched, he’ll need to average 13.5 strikeouts per nine in order to get to 300. deGrom’s best, at 13.8 per nine from last season, would put him at 306. Expecting deGrom to cross over the 200 innings pitched threshold is realistic. He did it each year from 2017-2019. We just need whether to cooperate, Luis Rojas to trust his ace, and science to continue to knock COVID on its rear-end.
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deGrom proved how super-human he is with his most recent start against the Colorado Rockies. Striking out nine batters in a row is a macho move. Even if he doesn’t win the Battle of Thermopylae with 300 strikeouts this season, there’s no doubting his abilities.