Archive for the 'Jacob deGrom' Category

The Rare Complete Game

Jason deGrom pitched the first complete game for the Mets since the last time he did so.  That was last season in Philadelphia on July 17 when he went nine in a 5-0 win.   In fact, that was the only complete game of the 2016 season for the Mets.

The complete game is a rare thing these days.  Pitchers are simply not trained to go nine innings.  Years ago, complete games were much more common.  Since and including the 2011 season, Mets starting pitchers have thrown 21 complete games including last evening’s gem by deGrom.  In 1969, Tom Seaver threw 18 complete games and number two starter Jerry Koosman threw 16.  That’s 34 complete games in one season from just too pitchers.  As a staff, the ’69 group threw 51 complete games.  Truly amazing and unheard of in this era of quality starts.  I want to emphasize I’m using Seaver and Koosman, two of the most remembered Mets of all time as an example.  Throwing lots of complete games was common throughout baseball, especially from the elite pitchers of the game.

Seaver tossed 231 complete games in his Hall of Fame career.  Cardinals and Phillies star Steve Carlton threw 254 complete games.  Greg Maddux whose career started in 1986 chucked 109 completes and Bartolo Colon who started his career 10 years after Maddux has thrown 36.  So you can see as the eras in baseball have progressed, so has the diminished number of complete games.  But why?

If I had a definitive answer, maybe I could write a thesis on the subject, correct the problem, and retire.  Not likely to happen.  One reason I believe is that there are more pitchers these days because there are more teams. There were only twenty-four teams in Seaver’s era vs. thirty teams today.   What that means is that pitchers that would have been relegated to the minor leagues back in the 70s are pitching in the majors today.  The talent pool is thinner and there just are not as many pitchers to go the distance.

Another reason is specialization.  With the advent of the closer and setup men in the last three decades, it became almost expected that pitchers just don’t throw nine innings anymore. There was no need.  And of course there is pitch count, a by-product of the Tommy John surgery era.  The common held belief and of course there is a lot of data to back it up, the more a pitcher throws, the more likely a pitcher will need surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament.  It was the surgery that saved Dodger’s pitcher Tommy John and has become so routine that parents of perspective MLB draft choices wonder aloud if their son should have the surgery proactively.  Thankfully surgeons collectively have responded to the request with a resounding NO!  But TJ surgery is another topic for another day. The fact is when we watch a pitching performance like the one that deGrom turned in last night, we marvel and enjoy.  But there was a time when it was no big deal except another win for our team.

More importantly for these current Mets, we now have seen a string of four games when Mets starters have yielded no more than one run. Since deGrom’s previous start when the Mets were drubbed 10-8, Mets pitchers have given up a total of 10 earned runs in six games for an ERA of 1.67.  Obviously I’m glad to see this sudden change in fortunes with the pitching staff.  However, I still think it’s a day by day proposition as the Mets still have a very tough schedule ahead.  I hate to get set up for a fall.

1-12 in Games Scoring 3 Runs or Less

It took 40 games for it to happen but finally the Mets won a baseball game in 2017 scoring three runs or less.  They are now 1-12 in that dubious category.  That’s why it’s so important to have good pitching.  Jacob deGrom’s seven innings of shutout baseball, including a Houdini like finish to his night, is why the Mets were able to win their first low scoring game of the year.  In their previous 16 wins this season, the Mets scored more than four runs. If the Mets could have won just half of games when they scored three runs or less, they would be in a much better shape than they are in today. Obviously it will take a number of pitchers to start turning in the performances they are capable of before or if this season is to really turn around but deGrom’s brilliant start was a step in the right direction.

Last night was only the second shut out of the season for the Mets. The first came on opening day when they shut out the Braves 6-0 also at Citi Field. Michael Conforto hit his 11th homer of the season. It was off a lefty and hit into the left field pavilion.  Conforto is certainly making the case to be a Mets all-star at Miami in July.