Friday, December 2, 2022

DeGrom Departs Mets For Texas

Jacob deGrom when left his first start of the 2022 season on August 7. Photo by Jason Schott.

There are dates in Mets history that fans can recall with little effort, such as the day they won their first World Series championship (October 16, 1969), when Tom Seaver was traded (June 15, 1977), the day they won the 1986 World Series (October 27, 1986), and the day Mike Piazza was acquired (May 22, 1998). Now, there is a new day that they will never forgot.

Friday, December 2, 2022 will be known as the day that Jacob deGrom, one of the best pitchers in Mets history who came through their system and was the last pitcher from a heralded group of young arms that led them to the 2015 World Series, signed a five-year contract with the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers did not disclose financial terms, and deGrom passed a physical on Friday. A press conference will be held at the Rangers ballpark, Globe Life Field, next week after the conclusion of the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Rangers Vice President and General Manager Chris Young said in the press release, "We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger. Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout Major League pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this off-season is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best. I also want to recognize our ownership group, led by Ray Davis, for continuing to provide the resources to build a winning culture here in Arlington. On behalf of the entire organization, I welcome Jacob, his wife, Stacey, and the entire deGrom family to the Rangers."

DeGrom will most be remembered for winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards, in 2018 and 2019, the first Met pitcher to win more than one since Seaver (1969, '73, '75), and he made every one of his starts a must watch. His ERA (earned run average) was 1.70 in 2018, a number so astonishing it excused the traditional Cy Young metric of wins because his record was just 10-9. He notched 269 strikeouts that season, which is the most he notched in a season in his career, in 217 innings pitched. The next year, his ERA ticked up to 2.43, owing to a slow start, at least for him, and he turned it on as the Mets made a late run for the playoffs, and his record was slightly better, at 11-8, with 255 strikeouts in 204 innings.

DeGrom made his Mets debut in 2014, when Matt Harvey was the leader of the rotation, along with Zack Wheeler, and he went 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 140.1 innings. The next season, when Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz joined the rotation, and the future was now, deGrom took on the aura of the ace, as he went 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 191 innings. DeGrom won three games in the postseason that year, two in the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the first and deciding fifth games of that series; and one against the Chicago Cubs in the N.L. Championship Series, a 5-2 Mets win in Game 3 on their way to a sweep.

After the Cy Young winning seasons and was possible, deGrom took it to another notch in 2021, as he began the season with a record of 7-2 and a 1.08 ERA, along with 146 strikeouts in 92 innings, which worked out to 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings. With the Mets in first place in early July, deGrom suffered multiple arm injuries, mainly right elbow inflammation and a forearm issue. Without deGrom, the Mets limped to a 77-85 record.

Heading into the 2022 season, the Mets signed free agent Max Scherzer, giving the Mets a 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation that any team would envy.

After a shortened spring training due to the lockout, and just a week before Opening Day, deGrom was put on the injured list with a stress reaction in his shoulder. 

DeGrom would miss four months, and Scherzer also missed six weeks, but amazingly, the Mets were in first place when deGrom would make his debut four months into the season, on August 2.

Jacob deGrom in his 2022 season debut. Photo by Jason Schott.

Five days later, DeGrom made his Citi Field season debut on Sunday, August 7, as he led the Mets to a 5-2 win over the Atlanta Braves, which capped a series in which they took four out of five games and opened up a 6 1/2 game lead.

In an astonishing performance, he retired the first 17 Braves hitters before he walked Ehide Adrianza and then allowed a two-run home run to Dansby Swanson before he exited. (To read our coverage from that day, click here)

While deGrom had flourishes of glory the rest of the season, there were disappointments as the season ended. On September 24 in Oakland, he coughed up a 4-0 Mets lead as the Mets lost a much-needed game, 10-4. and then he lost his next start in Atlanta, part of a three-game sweep by the Braves that helped them take the National League East crown from the Mets.

DeGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA (22 earned runs in 64.1 innings pitched) in 11 starts, with 102 strikeouts.

In the Wild Card round against the San Diego Padres, he won the second game of the series, the Mets' lone victory as San Diego stunned them to take the three-game set. That night, deGrom allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits, with eight strikeouts, in what turned out to be his last appearance in a Mets uniform.

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