1) Best players in the NL East: Jacob deGrom
There isn't much to say about Jacob deGrom that isn't already known. He is the best pitcher in baseball and one of the best pitchers in Mets history. He's won two Cy Young Awards and was on pace for a third before the injuries started last season.
deGrom had an absurd 1.08 ERA in 15 first-half starts in 2021. Unfortunately, he didn't make a single second-half start. deGrom returned in Spring Training and looked as dominant as ever, but then had a stress reaction in his right scapula that forced him to miss the first four months of the season.
When deGrom returned in August, I didn't know what to expect. I certainly didn't expect him to be as good as he was in 2021. At least not right away. It turns out that deGrom has been almost as good as he has been really throughout his entire career.
In eight starts deGrom has gone 5-2 with a 2.01 ERA. His stuff is as good as ever, pumping 100 mph fastballs consistently paired with a wicked 93+ mph slider. He's even mixed in his curveball and changeup more this season. He rarely used those pitches in 2021 because he really didn't need to.
He still doesn't really need to but when all four of those pitches are working, it makes him even more unfair to face.
deGrom has struck out 73 batters in 43.1 innings pitched (13.3 K/9). He's walked just four batters (0.7 BB/9.) He's allowed an absurd 4.6 hits per nine. Zac Gallen leads the National League with 5.9 H/9. What deGrom has done when he is probably as rusty as he is going to be after not pitching in 13 months is hard to fathom.
deGrom's 1.45 FIP suggests he's dealt with some bad luck which isn't a huge surprise to Mets fans. deGrom has been lights out and has gone seven innings in two of his last three starts.
When deGrom is able to give length, the opposition really doesn't stand much of a chance. I truly cannot wait to see him finally make his first career home playoff start after waiting for so long.