By Joe Rini
Jerry Seinfeld famously compared rooting for sports teams to rooting for laundry (different guys but the same clothes) and I have seen a lot of players wear the Mets orange and blue. In the last half century (man, am I getting old) there were great players I never wanted to see leave the Mets like Tom Seaver and Darryl Strawberry and somehow the Mets let them go (they let Seaver go twice!). There have been exasperating players who I wanted off the team and let’s just say I wasn’t broken hearted when they left (I’m sorry, I just didn’t appreciate the talents of Kevin McReynolds as much as GM Frank Cashen). Somehow journeyman Ron Hodges managed to be a backup catcher for over a decade and I didn’t care one way or another.
And then there is two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, arguably the third best pitcher in franchise history behind Seaver and Dwight Gooden. He’s pitching like a potential Hall of Famer. He is clearly a master on the mound. Therefore, I want him gone. I’m not even looking for prospects for the Mets in return. It’s for Jake’s sake. It’s the merciful thing to do.
In his latest start on Wednesday, deGrom allowed one run and two hits and struck out 14 Marlins before handing the ball to the bullpen in the eighth inning with a 4-1 lead. Three relievers later, three runs scored, and deGrom had another no decision before the Mets eked out a 5-4 win.
The sabermetricians say wins for a pitcher don’t matter in this era but that doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating to see a pitcher not get rewarded for his efforts. Whether it’s a lack of run support or a faulty bullpen, somehow the Mets managed to lose a staggering 36 of deGrom’s 64 starts in 2018 and 2019. Watching deGrom only get credited with a combined 21 wins in 2018 and 2019, one can only wonder how many wins he’d have had on a team with a better bullpen and offense…ahem, like the Yankees. Luis Severino won 19 in 2018 and Domingo German won 18 in 2019 for the team in the Bronx, so it’s easy to imagine deGrom with two 20 win seasons in pinstripes (and a World Series ring, perhaps).
Obviously, I am being facetious about trading deGrom, who has never complained about the lack of support from his teammates, and is handsomely compensated by the Mets for his efforts regardless of his won-loss record. At 32-years old with 68 career wins, maybe one or two more Cy Young seasons might just punch his ticket to Cooperstown, albeit with a modest win total. If deGrom isn’t complaining, neither will I…but it would be nice to see him get a win next time he strikes out 14 in one game.