Sorry, hitters. He’s not cheating.
An inspection by the umpiring crew and a wry smile from the best pitcher in baseball during Monday’s Braves-Mets game confirmed MLB hitters’ worst nightmare: Jacob deGrom isn’t using anything illegal—he’s just that good.
Monday was the first day that umpires were instructed to enforce baseball’s rule against the use of foreign substances by pitchers. Starters will be inspected for “sticky stuff” more than once per game and relievers will be checked either at the end of an inning or when they’re removed from the game.
The Braves and Mets played MLB’s first game of the day, so, after the first inning, when deGrom walked off the field after retiring the side (that’s 34 straight first-inning outs for him), he became the first pitcher to be checked for illegal gunk this year. deGrom wasn’t worried about it, though. As the umps checked him out, he just smiled.
“What all do you guys need?” deGrom recalled asking the umps.
“Glove, hat and belt,” they told him, and he complied.
“I handed them that stuff and went along my way,” deGrom said.
Earlier this month, as the sticky stuff scandal exploded, a Dodgers fan posted a video on Twitter of deGrom's touching the inside of his glove on the mound and accused the Mets ace of cheating. deGrom’s teammates rushed to his defense and were unanimous that deGrom is clean.
deGrom’s fastball spin rate has increased in recent years (from 2,261 in 2015 to 2,423 this year), but that can be chalked up to his increased velocity. Somehow, at age 33, his average fastball velocity has risen from 94.2 mph as a 26-year-old rookie to 99.2 this year.
deGrom has been so dominant this year that it’s been difficult to comprehend. It would almost make sense if he went out Monday, suddenly stripped of the ability to load up pitches with military-grade adhesive and got roughed up. But no, apparently he’s on the level, and he was just as unstoppable as he has been all year. He allowed one hit and no runs over five innings of work, with six strikeouts and two walks. He has started 12 games this season and has not allowed more than one run in any of them. (Monday’s start broke deGrom’s tie with Bob Gibson for the most consecutive starts allowing one or zero earned runs.) He’s gone 30 innings without allowing a run. His ERA is 0.50. His WHIP is 0.514. His ERA+ (where 100 is league-average) is 777. In a season when every pitching achievement is clouded by suspicion, it will be a blast to watch deGrom mow down hitters for the rest of the summer.
The best of SI
Gay former NFL player Wade Davis says the league and the country have come a long way since Michael Sam came out. ... Watching the Suns succeed is a complex experience for former GM Ryan McDonough. ... What’s at stake for every team in the NBA draft lottery? ... Trayvon Bromell recovered from an Achilles injury to win the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials.
Around the sports world
Doc Rivers says the Sixers have a plan to fix Ben Simmons’s shot. ... UEFA has denied a request from the mayor of Munich to have the Allianz Arena lit up in rainbow colors for Wednesday’s Germany-Hungary game in response to a discriminatory Hungarian law. ... Vikings rookie Jaylen Twyman was shot four times Monday but is expected to make a full recovery. ... Usain Bolt and his partner welcomed twins, one of whom is named Thunder. ... Being an athlete at the top of a niche sport can mean big money.
He plays defense, too
The Islanders got blown out 8–0 and this fan was fed up
Denmark is through to the knockout stage after a dominant win over Russia that featured two incredible goals
An 18-degree launch angle on a home run to center is preposterous
Who’s he talking about? (Maybe the Bears?)
I would be more impressed if they were the sweet chili flavor
New wrinkle to the modern pentathlon this year: there’s a guy with a gun chasing you during the running portion
A woman diving in Lake Huron found a message in a bottle from 1926. ... A Nebraska man set a record for naked skydiving. ... Scientists have figured out how to use recycled plastic and E. coli to make synthetic vanilla. ... Mapping of the ocean floor suggests icebergs once drifted as far south as Florida.
How do you let somebody get away after they go down a dead-end street?
Kid was completely unfazed
A good song
Email email@example.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.