On June 16th, the St. Louis Cardinals were not particularly kind to their guests from New York. Specifically, they weren’t nice to the Mets pitcher — Jacob deGrom, as he went 4.1 innings, allowing 12 hits, 6 earned runs, issued two walks, and struck out only two hitters.
At that moment, it didn’t look like deGrom would have much fantasy viability in 2014. Since that start, however, deGrom’s numbers have looked better, much better.
Last 7 Starts
So what do we make of him going forward?
The big negative, as far as I’m concerned, is how he’s going to be used for the remainder of the season.
Jacob deGrom is 26 and while that’s not quite a young phenom age, it stands to reason that the Mets will be cautious. Remember, this team is only a year away from Matt Harvey getting hurt, and I don’t think they’d want to expose deGrom, or any of their young pitchers to extra risk.
If there is an offsetting factor to that, it’s the possibility of the Mets staying in contention. If that happens, they’re not going to be as likely to shut their best players down. Unfortunately for the Mets and their fans, they may not be out of it in enough time to be sellers by next week’s trade deadline, but I don’t see them sticking around for the playoff race in August and September. The Braves and Nationals have a few too many games on them in the NL East, and there are too many good teams in the National League to think a Wild Card berth is going to happen.
Last season, deGrom set his career high in innings, throwing 147.2 in the minors. All of that probably means that deGrom is looking at 150-180 innings in 2014. Between the majors and minors, he’s already at 125.1.
That all probably means either an early season shutdown, or a few skipped starts. I’m not Sandy Alderson or Terry Collins, but the trends of baseball certainly indicate that non-contending teams don’t stretch out young starters.
There’s nothing wrong with picking deGrom up and starting him until he’s either shut down, or starts to slide a little bit. Sure, he might be likely to cool down, but speculating that it will happen and not taking advantage of what he’s doing only shortchanges yourself.
Now, because the Mets are a sub.-500 team, it does stand to reason that he’ll be more valuable in leagues that count quality starts instead of wins, but the Mets pitchers are otherwise well set for fantasy.
Citi Field is a great place to pitch, as are most parks in the NL East. With the possible exception of a hot-hitting Nationals, the NL East also isn’t exactly known for thunderous offenses either.
Also, while deGrom’s numbers have certainly improved from his 2013 in the minors, the changes aren’t so drastic that it’s going to be impossible for him to sustain strong pitching. He’s also struck hitters out at every level, so you can probably rely on consistently solid numbers there.
What to do
You have to have a backup plan in place, just in case Jacob deGrom is shut down early, or begins to struggle. But I’m buying this hot streak.
Again, the wins may not come (although the 4-1 bucks that theory), but the stars are aligned for deGrom to have a strong remainder of 2014. Until his stuff begins to show I’m wrong, I’d nab him.