Welcome to Notes on Baseball, a Sunday rundown of my favorite writing and stories in baseball this past week.
Grasping to describe deGrom
Dan Greenwald emailed me after last week’s issue and said:
Look forward to your future deGrom and NYM love. Resourcefulness and perseverance is impressive.
He’s right, of course. I haven’t written about Jacob Degrom because his performance this year isn’t, on the surface, surprising. He’s the best pitcher in the National League and is pitching like it.
But when you dig deeper into what deGrom is doing, you find things like this:
Insane. And this:
Woah. And this:
1893? Crazy! And this:
Even in our current pitching-dominant era, deGrom is far and away the standout of the season. The Mets made headlines in the offseason—good and bad—but we didn't hear much about deGrom.
When you’re so dominant for so long, your greatness can blend into the background. Even when you pitch in New York.
But deGrom has ascended to an incredible level, even for him. For anyone.
He left Friday night’s game after six shutout innings with something called flexor tendonitis, but shouldn’t miss his next start.
It’s hard to put DeGrom’s performance into proper perspective. Rustin Dodd tries:
His Baseball-Reference page reads like a misprint. His numbers would usually earn him a promotion to a tougher league, if he wasn’t already dominating the best league in the world.
Dan’s right. We should hear more about deGrom. It’s just so hard to adequately describe the level of dominance he’s reached.
Freshly packed at Wrigley
Wrigley Field was a wild place on Thursday afternoon. The Cubs were allowed to fill Wrigley to 100% for the first time. It was warm and sunny. The rival Cardinals were in town. Bill Murray was in the house:
The Cubs won a wild game, 8-5, and tied the game in the sixth inningn an epic, 14-pitch at-bat from Anthony Rizzo that ended with the ball in the right field seats:
The Cubs find themselves in first place, and after an off-season when it was widely assumed they would begin selling off assets in June.
Instead, the Cubs may add players—particularly starting pitchers—for a playoff push:
This season, the starting pitching appears to be the major issue. Once again, a Cubs starter failed to go five innings as Kohl Stewart was removed with nobody out in the fifth, one run already in and men on second and third with the team trailing 3-1. Cubs starters now have a 4.63 ERA, ninth-worst in baseball, and have completed six or more innings in just 19 of their 63 games. Friday marked the 23rd time a starter failed to complete five innings.
“There’s still a lot of time between now and then and our needs could change over that time,” Hoyer said. “But certainly I think about the position we’re in and obviously I want to be on the buy side. That means you’re winning and this place is lively all summer. I look at our track record and we’ve always done that.”
With performances like rookie Patrick Wisdom, who has eight homers in ten games, the Cubs have exceeded expectations and overcome significant injuries in their surprising start.
Thanks for reading!