The ongoing MLB lockout hasn’t stolen away any of the scheduled 162 games quite yet. With little progress between the two sides toward an agreement, the pessimistic part of our brains is beginning to light up and wonder if we’ll lose some action this year. For New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom, it’s another piece of bad news in his future bid to make it into Cooperstown.
Mets ace Jacob deGrom has Hall of Fame abilities but needs more years to solidify his status
I’m not sure when people began to wonder about whether or not they’d see deGrom in Cooperstown. It certainly wasn’t before 2018 when he won his first Cy Young. By the end of 2019, with two now on his mantle, I think some baseball fans began to wonder just how great he could become by the time he hung up his cleats.
deGrom added to his resume in 2020 and 2021 in what we can add together to equal a full year. Those 27 starts across two seasons included an 11-4 record and dazzling 1.63 ERA.
The problem: deGrom was already behind when he made his major league debut back in 2014 during his age 26 campaign. Now 33 but with no signs of slowing down, the star of the Mets pitching staff for the last eight seasons is 77-53 with a 2.50 ERA. These are numbers you won’t find often in the modern day.
The possible loss of more games from his stat sheet is hardly anything new for deGrom. Like I said, he didn’t get started in the big leagues until age 26. Tommy John Surgery early on in his minor league career stole away some time. The fact that he was drafted out of college at around age 22 didn’t help him either.
The only other pitcher still in the league today with an ERA better than deGrom is Clayton Kershaw. I think he’s a good guy to look at when comparing these two studs. Kershaw debuted way back in 2008 in his age 20 season. Now 14 years into his major league career, the man with a 2.49 ERA has a record of 185-84 and 2454.2 innings of work under his belt.
deGrom, born only a few months after Kershaw, has six fewer seasons. He has more than 100 fewer wins and about half as many innings pitched (1261.2). Kershaw's best days are behind him but he continues to pitch well and dig his heels into his Hall of Fame case. For deGrom, there’s a lot of catching up to do.
Already, the case for deGrom to make it into Cooperstown has some other considerations to take into account. Kershaw’s early seasons featured years where pitchers were pushed a little harder. He also played for better Los Angeles Dodgers teams in many of those seasons. Despite being so close in age, deGrom is from the following generation where six innings from a starter are considered above-average.
Even if the lockout doesn't ultimately steal any of the 162 games, it would be helpful for deGrom to get onto the mound with his team as soon as possible to make sure he's ready to be a bulldog for them in 2022.
We’ll worry about whether or not deGrom wears a Mets cap into Cooperstown in another decade or so. In the meantime, the baseball gods continue to frown down on deGrom. Whether it’s a late start, injuries, a pandemic during his peak, lockouts, or a lack of run support to bolster his stats, the Zeus of the game he plays for a living has it out for the Mets ace.