The best pitcher in baseball was absolutely terrific in April.
In news that is best classified as a foregone conclusion rather than a surprise, Jacob deGrom has officially been named National League Pitcher of the Month for April. This is inexplicably the first time that deGrom has earned the honor in his illustrious career. The two-time Cy Young award winner got started early on his campaign for his third award in four years thanks to a superb first month of the 2021 season.
As is usually the case with deGrom, the numbers are eye-opening and yet still don’t tell the whole story. On the month, the ace made five starts and led the league with a 0.51 ERA, a 760 ERA+, 4.1 H/9, 15.2 K/9, a 48.0% K%, and 59 strikeouts. The latter matched a major league record set by Nolan Ryan for the most punch outs through a pitcher’s first five starts of a season. He had three straight outings of 14-plus strikeouts, with his 15-strikeout performance on April 23 against the Washington Nationals setting a career-best mark. He has also posted a 0.83 FIP and a 0.57 WHIP in 35.0 innings, and concluded the month with a 2.1 bWAR.
As has far too often been the case with deGrom, his team has failed to score for him, which has become a central part of his story. Through his five starts, the Mets have scored 13 runs while getting shut out in two of those games. In his quest to single-handedly kill the pitcher’s win stat, deGrom only has two wins to show for his otherworldly month.
The 32-year-old’s increasing fastball velocity has also turned some heads. deGrom has thrown 46 pitches that have registered at 100 mph or faster, far more than any other starter in the sport. His four seam fastball velocity has increased from 96.0 mph in 2018 to 96.9 mph in 2019 to 98.6 mph in 2020, and he is sitting at 98.9 mph for the current year, a trajectory which is unprecedented for a pitcher at this stage of his career.
deGrom will make his next start on Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals with an extra day’s rest. It’s hard to imagine what he will do for an encore, but Jake’s starts have become must-watch events, even more so than in past seasons.