DeGrom Setting More Records, But Injury History Could Hurt His Next Contract (And His Legacy)

Fans usually know what to expect when they watch  Jacob deGrom pitch: weak contact, lots of strikeouts, and not many runs for the other team. More specifically, teams have been unable to score more than 3 runs on him for quite some time. With another dominant start on Sunday, deGrom set a MLB record with 40 consecutive starts with 3 or fewer runs against. The streak actually extends all the way back to 2020, as deGrom has battled injuries over the course of his career, starting with Tommy John surgery in his draft year, 2010.

Pitching against the Pirates, deGrom struck out 13 and gave up 3 earned runs in 5 innings. He also contributed to another record with fellow pitchers Seth Lugo, Joely Rodriguez and Trevor May, tying the record for strikeouts in a 9-inning game with 20.
Sadly, lack of playing time has most likely derailed his Hall of Fame chances, but there was a time when the righty was the most dominant force in the National League. DeGrom’s 9 year MLB career can be divided into three even sections. From 2014-16, he was a promising young talent, winning NL Rookie of the Year and helping the Mets reach the World Series in 2015. Over the next three years, though, he reached another gear, becoming unquestionably the best pitcher in baseball. He threw over 200 innings in all three seasons, winning back to back Cy Youngs in 2018 and 2019. Those were his ages 29-31 seasons, the physical peak for most athletes. Since then, deGrom hasn’t thrown more than 100 innings in a season, although that includes the shortened 2020, where his 68 innings were technically a full workload.

DeGrom has been his usual self since returning from the Injured List, putting up a 2.42 ERA and 86 strikeouts in just 9 starts. When he’s on the field, he doesn’t show any signs of aging; in fact, his fastball velocity has risen in the past few years. However, headed into free agency this offseason, deGrom’s projected payday is far lower than one would expect for a player of his pedigree. While the quality of his performance has never been in doubt, teams looking to sign him this offseason will have serious concerns about the kind of quantity they can expect from deGrom. 

With the elevated injury risk, as well as concerns over his age, he is unlikely to receive any sort of long-term deal. For fans, all we can do is make sure to enjoy every start of his we get to watch, because there's no way of knowing how many more chances we'll get to see him.

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