Jacob deGrom’s personal goal is the same whether he’s coming off a Cy Young Award-winning season or one in which he fell short of the prize.
That is, to win it again.
After two straight seasons winning the award, the Mets ace finished third in the National League voting last year, behind Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish. He will take the ball Thursday night in Washington looking for a fast start toward reclamation.
“You set personal goals and I have said that before that a goal of mine is to win the Cy Young,” said deGrom, who went 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 12 starts last season. “I have said that in years past and that is a goal again this year, but ultimately this is a team game so the real goal for everybody is to go win the World Series. That starts Thursday and that is the mission and that is what we are all pulling for.”
The 32-year-old deGrom will join Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and Johan Santana among Mets pitchers to start at least three straight openers. It comes after a spring training to which deGrom arrived throwing 100 mph and looked filthy in posting a 0.66 ERA.
In Max Scherzer he will be lined up against a familiar foe, who even at 36 years old shouldn’t be underestimated. Scherzer last season went 5-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 12 starts.
“I enjoy games like this,” deGrom said. “Every pitch counts and it makes you just focus that much more. You go out there and compete, give it your all, leave it out on the field and hope you end up having a better day and your team scores some more runs for you.”
Over his three-year stretch of dominance deGrom has never won more than 11 games, but with a powerful lineup behind him this season could envision getting to 20. The right-hander won a career-best 15 games in 2017.
In the larger picture, a third Cy Young Award would enhance deGrom’s Hall of Fame credentials. Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw both have won the award three times in what seem like certain Hall of Fame careers.
“Having some time to reflect a little bit, I definitely know what kind of class [a third Cy Young] would put me in and a goal of mine is also to try to make it to the Hall of Fame,” deGrom said. “I want to continue pitching at an elite level for quite some time.”