My favorite quote of the offseason was National League MVP Christian Yelich saying in an interview that pitching is so good these days that "every hit feels like a miracle." That's some excellent hyperbole, except in the case of Jacob deGrom, with whom it rings 100 percent true.
The ace of the New York Mets has entered that rarified zone that few pitchers ever reach. I like to call it the Gooden Zone, in honor of Dwight Gooden's 1985 season, in which he went 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and you were so desperate to catch highlights of his latest masterpiece that you begged your parents to finally pony up and pay for cable TV.
In Wednesday's 6-4 win over the Marlins, deGrom fanned a career-high 14 batters in seven scoreless innings:
Oh, he also homered. In his first two starts, deGrom hasn't allowed a run and has 24 strikeouts in 13 innings. He's just the third pitcher to begin his season with two scoreless starts and double-digit strikeouts in both games, joining Nolan Ryan (1978) and Karl Spooner (1954).
(Aside on Karl Spooner: His games came at the end of the season, when he was a September call-up for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He threw a three-hit, 15-strikeout shutout in his debut and followed that with a four-hit, 12-strikeout shutout. He could have been an all-time great, but he injured his shoulder in spring training of 1955 and lasted just one more season in the majors.)
A week ago, there was a fair debate as to who is the best pitcher in the game. Maybe it is deGrom, coming off his 1.70 ERA and Cy Young season, or maybe it is Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander or Chris Sale or Blake Snell or Corey Kluber. Right now, at this moment in time, it's deGrom. It has to be.
You like dominance? His ERA the past two seasons is 1.56. His ERA his past 30 starts is 1.40. In those 205 innings, he has allowed eight home runs.
You like consistency? He tied Bob Gibson's major league record with 26 consecutive quality starts and extended his record to 31 consecutive starts allowing three runs or fewer.
You like jaw-dropping, unhittable pitches? He averaged 93.5 mph with his slider, the highest average of his career.
In other words: He might be getting better.
I know. It's two starts. It's the Marlins. Don't get too excited.
I don't care. It feels like 1985 again, and I'm the kid in Seattle trying to watch a Mets pitcher make history.
Don't act like you're not impressed: The Padres beat the Diamondbacks 4-1 as Joey Lucchesi had his second scoreless outing (five innings, four hits, six K's), but the highlight was Manny Machado's first home run for the Padres:
Yes, we're impressed: Bryce Harper's past eight plate appearances: double, single, home run, intentional walk, walk, single, single, intentional walk. Harper looks like he's off to one of his patented hot April starts, hitting .500/.652/1.188 through five games with seven walks and three home runs.
About Wednesday's game, however: The Nationals beat the Phillies 9-8. It wasn't pretty. The teams combined for 14 walks, 22 hits, four errors and 344 pitches. The Nationals' bullpen is a mess and blew a late lead -- Trevor Rosenthal has appeared in three games, allowed seven runs and failed to retire a batter (not a typo) -- only to see the Phillies give it right back. David Robertson walked three men in the bottom of the ninth without getting an out, including a bases-loaded walk to rookie Jake Noll, who has yet to record his first major league hit.
As Eddie Matz writes, it's going to be a wild affair in the NL East.
Rockies 1, Rays 0: Chris Iannetta won this one with a home run in the 11th. German Marquez was dominant again for the Rockies -- he's the real deal, folks -- and Charlie Morton had a second straight solid start for the Rays. Tampa kept getting runners on against the Rockies' bullpen but couldn't push across the winning run. The Rays left two on in the seventh, two in the eighth, three in the ninth and two in the 10th, going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Still, it's a strong start for the Rays, as they're 5-2 and have allowed just 11 runs.
My updated National League Cy Young picks at this moment:
3. Not the Nationals bullpen
Speaking of bad bullpens ... The Cubs led the Braves 4-2 entering the bottom of the eighth when this happened: walk, walk, walk, new pitcher, three-run double, new pitcher, single, sacrifice fly, ground out, walk, walk, new pitcher, ground out. It could have been worse, as the Braves left the bases loaded. Yuck:
Cubs relievers in a 4-run Braves 8th:— David Adler (@_dadler) April 4, 2019
10 strikes (!)
5 walks (!!)
1 bases-clearing double pic.twitter.com/C8vHcfFK9c
To recap the Cubs' past four games:
Saturday: Yu Darvish walks seven in 2⅔ innings; Cubs pitchers walk 12 altogether; Cubs lose 8-6.
Sunday: Cubs pitchers walk six, give up three home runs; Cubs lose 11-10 on a walk-off wild pitch.
Monday: Cubs issue nine walks, give up 12 hits and make six errors; Cubs lose 8-0, becoming the first team since 1985 to get shut out and commit that many errors.
Wednesday: Cubs walk eight batters, blow late lead, leave 10 runners on base; Cubs lose 6-4.
That, my friends, is some horrific baseball. Jesse Rogers has more.
Gordon Beckham is still in the majors: You might not have realized this. I'm not sure I realized it. Beckham, you might remember, had a really good rookie season for the White Sox way back in 2009. Since then, he hasn't really hit much, with an OPS+ below league average every season and a .216/.276/.334 line the past five seasons that included a cup of coffee with the Mariners the past two seasons.
Anyway, he's on the Tigers, and he did this in the eighth inning to beat the Yankees 2-1:
I mean ... even the Tigers announcers sounded a little surprised.
Oh, Tigers starter Matt Boyd struck out 13 as Tigers pitchers combined for 18 K's. That's the most the Yankees have ever struck out in a game in the live-ball era. (They fanned 17 times in three games.) Boyd is also the first visiting pitcher with 13 strikeouts at Yankee Stadium since Jason Schmidt in 2002.
So, yes, baseball ... you just never know.