It doesn’t just feel like Jacob deGrom keeps getting better. He somehow really does. And that’s why on Friday night there were MVP chants… for a pitcher… in April.
The two-time, reigning full-season National League Cy Young winner set a major league record by reaching 50 strikeouts in his first four starts of the season, punching out a career-high 15 Nationals in a 6-0 win, deGrom’s fourth career complete game and second shutout.
What’s more, deGrom had as many hits — two — as he allowed all night, as well as equaling Washington’s total bases with three. While deGrom didn’t draw a walk, he also didn’t allow one, and he accounted for half of his own support by scoring two runs and driving in another.
As deGrom retired the last 19 batters he faced, it was hard not to think of some of the other best-pitched games that weren’t no-hitters, like Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game and Pedro Martinez’s 17-strikeout one-hitter that wasn’t a shutout because the one hit was a Chili Davis homer. This was up there: a night to remember from a legend at the top of his game.
For the season, deGrom now has an ERA of 0.31 with 50 strikeouts and three walks. His WHIP is 0.552. Opponents’ slash line against deGrom is now .134/.158/.268. He’s given up four runs (one earned) in four starts, yet is only 2-1 because, well, you know by now how the Mets tend to hit for their ace.
What you might not know is that Davis, now the Mets’ hitting coach, might be a good motivator for deGrom. In 1993, Davis made the lone pitching appearance of his career, facing seven Texas Rangers at the end of an 18-1 blowout in Anaheim, and retiring six of them. The only thing between Davis and perfection as a major league pitcher was that he hit Jose Canseco, so really, he was better than perfect, which it feels like is just about all deGrom has to shoot for now.
Speaking of guys who can do it all, Shohei Ohtani also was in action on Friday, but just as a DH. He had two hits, including an RBI double off Zack Greinke…
…but since Ohtani didn’t pitch, the Angels wound up losing in Houston, 5-4, in 10 innings.
And speaking of legends at the top of their game, Stephen Curry bounced back from the end of his streak of 11 consecutive 30-point games by dropping 32 on the Nuggets in a 118-97 romp for Golden State.
Curry was 4-for-9 on threes, which for him lately is an off night. But he was 7-for-9 on twos, so, yeah, it’s all good.