Should MLB's unluckiest pitcher start the All-Star Game?
It’s frequently said that the pitcher win is the most overrated stat in Major League Baseball.
There might be no better evidence to support that opinion than what New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going through this season.
The 30-year-old right-hander was named to his third All-Star Game on Sunday, and there’s a very strong argument for deGrom to be the National League’s starting pitcher. He’s simply been brilliant through his first 19 starts in 2018, yet he’ll enter the All-Star break with a mere five wins.
You read that correctly. Five wins.
It’s a stunningly low number that can only be attributed to the ineptitude of deGrom’s teammates. The Mets lineup has let their ace down at nearly every turn, and it’s led to a level of frustration that’s become difficult to suppress. It’s also led some to wonder if deGrom’s lack of wins will hurt his chances of being named the NL’s starting pitcher.
Ultimately, only one person can answer that question. That’s Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who will also oversee this year’s NL All-Star team. In the meantime, it might be worth looking at the numbers and the circumstances to see where deGrom’s chances lie.
Related: See the National League's starters for the game:
The case for
Brilliant might actually be understating how good deGrom has been this season.
With eight scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday night, deGrom lowered his MLB-best ERA to 1.67 on the season. That puts him in a virtual tie with Dwight Gooden for the best ERA at the All-Star break in franchise history.
Worth noting, the Mets would go on to win 3-0 in 10 innings on Brandon Nimmo’s walk-off home run. While an exhilarating win for the team, it would go down as another no decision for deGrom. Unfortunately, that’s the result he’s become accustomed to.
It’s astonishing that his ERA is actually better in his no decisions. He’s also allowed three or fewer runs in 16 consecutive starts, which is the longest stretch by a Met since Dwight Gooden’s run of 24 in 1985.
If baseball were fair, deGrom would have at least 15 wins and would be a no-brainer to start.
The case against
There’s really only one realistic case to be made against Jacob deGrom, but it’s a pretty good one. The name of the case? Max Scherzer.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner is himself enjoying another brilliant season and has been rewarded with his sixth straight All-Star selection. The 33-year-old right-hander is 11-5 with a 2.33 ERA over his first 19 starts. He leads MLB in innings pitched (127.2), strikeouts (177) and WHIP (.893).
That production is difficult to deny, but deGrom’s numbers are at least as impressive. Considering the environment he’s pitching in deGrom’s success should probably easily outweigh Scherzer’s and make him the favorite to start the All-Star Game. But if there’s one thing tipping the scale back in Scherzer’s direction, it’s that the All-Star Game will be at Nationals Park, which happens to be his home ballpark.
Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies could also get some consideration for the start. Chicago Cubs ace Jon Lester may have, too, but he was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke on Thursday. Realistically, it’s only a two-pitcher race right now.
Yes, deGrom absolutely should start the All-Star Game. But there’s probably less than a 50-50 chance it will happen because of Scherzer’s presence and the game’s location.
If that proves true, it could be that deGrom is having the best possible season in the worst possible place at the worst possible time.
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