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deGrom empties tank in last hope for 3rd Cy

Righty 'frustrated' with performance; Mets eliminated from playoffs
@AnthonyDiComo
September 26, 2020

Most likely, Jacob deGrom will not win the National League Cy Young Award. The details will depend upon how members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote, but deGrom is far enough away from the NL ERA lead that his dream of winning three straight plaques appears out of

Most likely, Jacob deGrom will not win the National League Cy Young Award. The details will depend upon how members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote, but deGrom is far enough away from the NL ERA lead that his dream of winning three straight plaques appears out of reach.

Still, it cannot be understated what deGrom accomplished this season, demonstrating in a smaller sample that he may be better than ever. In the first game of a doubleheader at Nationals Park, deGrom struck out 10 and hit 102 mph on the radar gun, though he took a no-decision in a game the Mets lost, 4-3, to fall mathematically out of playoff contention.

Box score

“I’m frustrated with today,” deGrom said. “I wasn’t able to go out there and do what we needed.”

Once deGrom was done for the day, Miguel Castro followed him to the mound and put runners on the corners. With one out, manager Luis Rojas then turned to Edwin Díaz, who allowed a Josh Harrison go-ahead fielder’s choice. The loss, which Rojas called “the toughest of the year,” ensured the Mets cannot pass the Giants or Phillies in the NL standings.

In other words, they will miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

The defeat also likely took deGrom out of contention to become the third pitcher in Major League history, following Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, to win three consecutive Cy Young Awards. As recently as early September, deGrom appeared to be a favorite to do so, but a minor knee injury slimmed his chances as Trevor Bauer, Yu Darvish and others continued to pitch well in Cincinnati, Chicago and elsewhere.

Bauer’s 12-strikeout performance on short rest earlier this week jumped him ahead of deGrom, though the two-time reigning winner still had an outside chance to reestablish himself as the favorite with a transcendent performance on Saturday. For a time, it looked as if deGrom might do exactly that; he struck out five of the first nine batters he faced, hitting a career-high 102.2 mph on the radar gun and freezing Juan Soto with a 95-mph slider during one particularly devilish sequence.

But an Andrew Stevenson homer in the third inning hurt deGrom, as did two soft singles and a run-scoring wild pitch that catcher Wilson Ramos could not block in the fourth. Still nursing a one-run lead, deGrom lost it in the fifth, when left fielder Dominic Smith crashed into the wall in pursuit of a Stevenson hit. Dazed, Smith could not get to his feet in time to prevent Stevenson from racing around with an inside-the-park homer.

“I was hoping he was OK,” deGrom said. “He was down on the ground for a while and I was like, 'Ah, I hope he gets up.'”

It went in the box score as an earned run for deGrom, who finished the season sixth in the NL with a 2.38 ERA. His 104 strikeouts are likely to lead the league, though Bauer is second in that category and first in ERA.

Asked who he thinks should win the Cy Young, deGrom, clearly perturbed by the Mets’ failure to make the playoffs, replied: “I don’t know, honestly. I guess Bauer, Yu Darvish? I don’t know. I would have liked to have been there in the talks, but I don’t think today helped me.”

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.