Jacob deGrom has been one of the season's most pleasant surprises, and the 26-year-old Mets righty has pitched his way into contention for National League Rookie of the Year honors. On Monday, deGrom did even better than that by striking out the first eight hitters to tie a modern major-league record.
Facing the Marlins at Citi Field with Mr. Met showing off his own flowing locks in tribute, deGrom struck out the side in the first inning and again in the second. He was one out away from doing so in the third before yielding a single to pitcher(!) Jarred Cosart. Via the PITCHf/x data from MLB Gameday, here's a quick rundown deGrom's streak:
Christian Yelich: Struck out on foul tip of 96 mph fastball (5th pitch)
Donovan Solano: Swinging at 95 mph fastball (5th pitch)
Casey McGehee: Looking at 94 mph fastball (7th pitch)
Marcell Ozuna: Looking at 94 mph fastball (4th pitch)
Justin Bour: Swinging at 96 mph fastball (4th pitch)
Adeiny Hechavarria: Swinging at 97 mph fastball (3rd pitch)
Jordany Valdespin: Looking at 88 mph slider (4th pitch)
Jeff Mathis: Looking at 95 mph fastball (5th pitch)
Jarred Cosart: Single off 94 mph fastball (3rd pitch)
Here's the video of deGrom's strikeout of Mathis:
Via @AceballStats, deGrom tied the record set by the Astros' Jim Deshaies against the Dodgers on Sept. 23, 1986. More than a century earlier — Aug. 28, 1884, to be exact — Giants hurler (and future Hall of Famer) Mickey Welch struck out nine in a row, albeit from a pitching distance of 50 feet at a time when it took six balls to walk a hitter. Deshaies, now an announcer on Cubs broadcasts, offered his congratulations via Twitter (Welch could not be reached for comment):
Congratulations to Jacob Degrom for tying one of the most hallowed records in all of sport — Jim Deshaies (@JimDeshaies) September 16, 2014
DeGrom wound up pitching seven innings, allowing three runs and striking out a career-high 13. His previous high was 11, set on May 31 against the Phillies and tied on July 8 against the Braves. That baker's dozen total was two off the 2014 major league season high, shared by Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester. Three other pitchers notched 14 K's in one start, while eight others have tallied 13. You can see details on each of those starts here.
Alas, despite deGrom’s performance, the Mets fell, 6-5. Wilmer Flores staked the Mets to a 2-0 lead via a first-inning double, but a two-run single from ex-Met Valdespin and a sacrifice fly by Reed Johnson, both in the seventh at deGrom's expense, put the Marlins in the lead. New York rallied for three in the bottom of the seventh against Marlins relievers Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos, but Miami answered right back in the next half-inning against Jeurys Familia.
As a result of the outing, deGrom's ERA sits at 2.68 with a strikeout rate of 9.0. He has 134 whiffs in 134 1/3 innings. He came into the night having accumulated 3.3 Wins Above Replacement — 2.9 on the pitching side, 0.4 on the hitting side via his 10-for-42 showing — since making his major league debut on May 15. By comparison, Reds centerfielder Billy Hamilton, considered by many to be the frontrunner for NL Rookie of the Year, has hit .259/.297/.368 with six homers and 56 steals in 78 attempts en route to 2.4 WAR.