New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. Since 2018 no other pitcher has been better than deGrom. Before the 2020 season deGrom was ranked the best starting pitcher in baseball, he has ranked first again before the 2021 season. He has ranked the third-best player in all of baseball going into 2021. Jacob deGrom won the Rookie of the Year Award Winner in 2014, is a 3X all-star (2015, 2018, 2019).
His career ERA is 2.60, the second-lowest ERA spanning from 2014-2021, only behind Clayton Kershaw. Since 2018 he has two Cy Young Awards (2018, 2019), a third-place finish in Cy Young voting in 2020, 2X all-star (2018, 2019), there was no all-star game in 2020 but is safe to say he would have made it.
His ERA from 2018-2021 is 2.07, the best in the majors during that span. From 2018-2021 he has an fWAR of 19, the highest amongst pitchers during that span. This would rank him third overall behind Mike Trout (21.2) and Mookie Betts (20.4).
Jacob deGrom Keeps Getting Better
Typically as players age, they begin to decline in productivity. That has not been the case. Jacob deGrom is 32 years old, he will be 33 in June, but his velocity number continues to increase. Gradually over the years, his velocities on his pitches have been increasing. deGrom’s average fastball velocity in 2016 was 93.9. In 2020 his average fastball velocity was 98.7. That is uncanny, as deGrom has aged instead of his velocities going down they continue to increase.
How does he do it? According to deGrom, it is all natural to him. Over the years he has perfected his mechanics and motion which allows him to naturally throw faster. He does not need to overexert himself to hit high velocities. He can hit 102 MPH on his fastball, while consistently hitting 100 plus throughout the game, a changeup in the low to mid-90s, and a slider that ranges from the low to mid-90s.
His curve ball is his only “slow” pitch, which is also pretty fast. His curve, his least used pitch, has an average velocity of 84.1 and has topped out at 88.3 MPH. A major factor in deGrom’s ability to increase his talent is his absurd velocities on his pitches, his pinpoint accuracy, his pitching motion being the same for practically every pitch, and his pitch movements.
Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner when interviewed said that if a person was to build a pitcher in a video game you would take deGrom’s fastball, his slider, his change up, and his curve ball. Hefner stated that his curve, his least used pitch, is still an elite pitch and is one of the best curves in the game. So why doesn’t deGrom use the curveball? Well, his other pitches are so good he does not need to use his curve much.
His fastball-slider combo is arguably the best pitch combo in the entire game. Which is complemented with an elite changeup. He only throws the curve when he feels like it. In deGrom’s first start of 2021, he threw 24 straight fastballs to start the game, and many of those were at or over 100 MPH. His fastball is so good he can throw it 24 straight times and be successful.
Because his motion is the same every time hitters have a very hard time telling what pitch is coming. Out of his hand, his pitches look identical. Hitters do not know whether a 100 MPH fastball is coming or a 94 MPH slider. A pitching repertoire consisting of a 100 plus MPH fastball, low to mid 90s sliders, low to mid 90s changeups, and a curve ball ranging from the low to high 80s is something pitchers dream of having.
So what can we expect from Jacob deGrom in 2021? Well, I think the answer is clear, deGrom should be a candidate for the NL Cy Young Award. He got off to a strong start in 2021, in his first game against the Phillies his final line was 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 7 SO, 77 Pitches. His pitching wasn’t his only strong suit on opening day, going 2-3 with an RBI.
deGrom exited after only 77 pitches through 6 innings, which was a controversial move. However, it was deGrom’s first start of the season and he had not pitched in 10 days so it makes sense as to why he was taken out early. He threw his fastball 76.6% of the time against the Phillies. In spring training he showed that he is ready to win another Cy Young. He was lights out and consistently hitting high velocities. This could be a sign of what is yet to come from the world’s best pitcher.