New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is clearly something special. The kind of athlete, the kind of teammate, the kind of person that comes along maybe once in a generation. The stats he has put up in such a relatively short period of time – the strikeouts; the strikeouts per nine innings vs. walks per nine innings; earned run average; WHIP - make you wonder just what makes him tick.
It’s hard to imagine that deGrom ever have a bad game. Because, let’s face it, deGrom just set a new major league record with his 40th consecutive start allowing three earned runs or less, a mark that has stood since 1914…over 100 years ago. The last time deGrom allowed more than three earned runs? September 3, 2019.
The reality is that everyone does, eventually, have a bad game. It happens. Even deGrom is human. But his outer stratospheric performances have, perhaps, spoiled us all. Because the expectations have become unreasonable and, somewhat, unrealistic.
When deGrom set the new record for consecutive starts with less than four earned runs, he didn’t even get the win. Unfortunately, after being spotted a 3-0 lead, he was taken deep for a game-tying three-run homer in the sixth inning. That was after he was so dominating that he had struck out 13 batters over the first five innings.
New York Mets fans have come to expect Jacob deGrom to perform on an almost mystical level.
The super human performances have become somewhat automatic for deGrom. But this time, after setting that new record, after overpowering hitters for five innings, Mets fans and members of the media took to the airwaves and the internet to start placing the, get this, blame on Jacob deGrom.
Blame? Seriously? I always wonder what people are thinking when they can justify placing “blame” on a guy like deGrom, after all he had done, after all of the thrills he has provided, all because he gave up a game-tying home run?
Mets fans surely recall one of the most famous games in club history. On the night of September 15, 1969, future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton struck out a then Major League record 19 New York Mets. Like deGrom, Carlton didn’t win that game either. In fact, he lost. Ron Swoboda blasted two two-run homers to lead the Mets to a 4-3 victory.
Nobody “blamed” Carlton for the loss. In fact, Carlton actually drew praise and sympathy, falling victim to the magic of that Mets season.
deGrom has been the ultimate competitor, and he has been victimized by a lack of offensive support. But that also comes with the territory of being the ace of the staff…as you will more often than not go up against the opponent’s No. 1, thereby further neutralizing your offense.
The sheer professionalism deGrom takes to the mound every time he toes the rubber is a given. The overpowering dominance has been rule. It’s easy to get spoiled. The lofty expectations are there for good reason. But to start throwing blame in Jake’s direction could be the very thing that makes him think he’d be better off, looking for more support, and throwing pees in another uniform.