Earlier this season, in the moments following a particularly frustrating loss, Mets reliever Trevor May remarked with a bit of edge to his voice that Jacob deGrom “shouldn’t have to do everything himself.” May is new to the team, but plenty aware of its history: Only infrequently do the Mets play well enough behind deGrom to give him the outcomes he generally deserves.
What May failed to recognize is that deGrom has ascended to a level in which he not only can do everything himself, but also routinely doeswithout issue or complaint. No longer with an obvious peer among Major League pitchers, deGrom has taken to competing with himself, achieving new and more noteworthy feats seemingly every time he takes the field. So it was Friday night at Citi Field, where deGrom went the distance, set a new career high with 15 strikeouts and drove in the game’s first run in a 6-0 win over the Nationals.
In more than one way, it was the finest performance of deGrom’s decorated career. By the time he finished, deGrom led the Major Leagues with 50 strikeouts, passing Nolan Ryan (1978) and Shane Bieber (2021) for the most by a pitcher in his first four starts of a season. He became the third pitcher to amass 14 or more strikeouts in three consecutive games, joining Pedro Martínez (1999) and Gerrit Cole (2019).
Following an Andrew Stevenson two-out double that Brandon Nimmo could not catch in the third, deGrom retired the next 16 batters in a row. The Mets struggled to score themselves until deGrom’s RBI double in the fifth, which led to a three-run inning. Nimmo drove home two more runs with a single, then doubled and scored again in the seventh before adding a two-run homer in the eighth, on which deGrom scored following a single.
By the middle innings, fans at Citi Field were routinely serenading deGrom with chants of “M-V-P.” The last pitcher to win the award was Clayton Kershaw in 2014.