By Matt Citak
Jacob deGrom has been unbelievable for the New York Mets this season.
In 11 starts, the 29-year-old right-hander has recorded an impressive 1.52 ERA. This incredible mark currently leads the National League, and has deGrom ranked second in ERA in all of baseball, trailing only Houston’s Justin Verlander and his 1.11 ERA.
Through 65.1 innings, deGrom has allowed a mere 11 earned runs while racking up 85 strikeouts and recording a 1.01 WHIP.
Yet two months into the season, despite being one of the top performers in the National League, deGrom has been the winning pitcher in just four contests due to the lack of overall support from his teammates.
Over his last seven starts, deGrom has pitched to an unworldly 0.45 ERA. One of the biggest reasons for this has been his ability to work himself out of a jam- opposing hitters are hitless in their last 28 at-bats against deGrom with runners in scoring position.
However five of those starts resulted in no decisions for the righty, while only two ended with him as the winning pitcher.
For example, let’s take a look at his most recent outing.
On Monday, deGrom tossed a masterful seven innings during the first game of New York’s doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. He allowed one earned run on five hits with eight strikeouts, needing 115 pitches to get through the seven frames. He exited the game with the Mets leading 2-1, hopeful the bullpen could hold on to the lead to earn him his fifth win of 2018.
But, the normally reliable Seth Lugo allowed a run in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game, and after the Mets took the lead back in the top of the ninth, surrendered a two-run walk-off home run to pinch-hitter Charlie Cluberson.
It was Cluberson’s first home run since September 25, 2016.
Unfortunately that has been the story of the 2018 season for deGrom and the Mets, who have failed to take advantage of the games with the team’s ace on the mound.
Before Monday’s loss to the Braves, deGrom threw an absolute gem five days earlier against the Miami Marlins. The starting pitcher threw seven shutout innings of four-hit ball and left the game with a 1-0 lead, just to watch Mets closer Jeurys Familia give up two runs in the top of the ninth.
This is nothing new for deGrom and the Mets. In fact, deGrom has never left a start while trailing this season. Yet somehow, the Mets are 5-6 on the year in his starts, a statistic that’s hard to fathom considering his 1.52 ERA. But game after game, the bullpen has found a way to crumble and spoil his dominant performances.
Now in his fifth season in the majors, deGrom has left the game with a lead just to watch the Mets bullpen blow it an astounding 22 times throughout his young career…
While the relief pitching has been bad, the Mets’ lineup has not been doing their part this year either.
In those six losses with the team’s No. 1 pitcher on the hill, the Mets have been able to score just 15 runs of offense, with six coming in one contest alone.
On the other hand, deGrom has allowed only four earned runs in 33.1 innings during those same six games.
It’s almost remarkable how little help deGrom has received from his teammates this season, between the lack of run support and the continuous failures of the bullpen. But with the latest injury to Noah Syndergaard, along with the inconsistent play from the rest of the starting rotation, the Mets can ill afford to waste such strong outings from the team’s best pitcher and current Cy Young candidate.
If the Mets want to salvage the season and make a true playoff run this year, they need to start by providing Jacob deGrom with the run and bullpen support that the ace deserves.
Matt Citak is a contributor for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter.