WASHINGTON — Jacob deGrom’s statistics suggest he is losing on the judges’ scorecards, but there is still a chance for a 12th-round knockout punch.
The Mets ace will get that opportunity at Nationals Park, in his final start of the season. DeGrom, in his bid for a third straight National League Cy Young award, needs excellence.
Left unclear is when that start will come. The Mets were postponed Friday because of weather, setting up a Saturday doubleheader in which Rick Porcello will start one game. But there was a possibility deGrom’s scheduled Saturday start would get bumped to Sunday if the Mets are eliminated from postseason consideration. They will enter the day still alive, after the Padres beat the Giants in the nightcap of a doubleheader, but with a tragic number of one, they could be eliminated before Saturday’s doubleheader is complete.
If the Mets pitch deGrom on Sunday, it would allow him the opportunity to potentially pitch nine innings. A Saturday start in the doubleheader would allow for only seven innings.
What’s the difference? A seven-inning shutout would drop deGrom’s ERA to 1.93. A shutout over nine innings would drop that number to 1.88. The extra innings would also provide deGrom a better opportunity to claim the NL strikeout crown.
The front-runner, Trevor Bauer, was scheduled to make a second straight start on short rest Sunday as Cincinnati chased a postseason berth. But the Reds clinched a spot Friday, leaving it unlikely Bauer will pitch again before the playoffs.
The Reds right-hander leads the NL with a 1.73 ERA and 100 strikeouts. DeGrom is second in both categories, with a 2.14 ERA and 94 strikeouts.
“I think deGrom needs as big a game as he’s ever pitched to catch Bauer,” former Mets pitcher Ron Darling, a member of SNY’s broadcast team, told The Post.
Others in the mix include Dinelson Lamet, Yu Darvish, Max Fried and Corbin Burnes.
DeGrom is attempting to join Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to win at least three straight Cy Young awards. Maddux and Johnson both won the award four straight years. The winner will be decided in a vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, with results announced in November.
If deGrom falls short, an abbreviated start in Philadelphia just over a week ago might serve as the reason. DeGrom, who entered that game with an NL-leading 1.69 ERA, allowed three earned runs over two innings in that outing before departing with hamstring discomfort.
“Jake not being able not to go more than two innings hurt him and Bauer has taken the ball … every time,” Darling said.
DeGrom has faced tougher lineups than Bauer in a schedule consisting of NL East and AL East competition, but Darling said that shouldn’t be held against the Reds ace.
“You could maybe lift Jake’s numbers because of the competition he’s faced, but you can’t deface Bauer’s numbers because who he’s faced, because it’s not on him,” Darling said. “He’s facing whoever is in the lineup. It’s not his fault.
“I think [deGrom] needs a shutout or one of those magical games. We see on the last weekend many magical games, whether it’s big strikeout games or [no hits allowed]. I wouldn’t put it past Jake. If anyone can do it, he can. Bauer’s just had a magical year and you really just have to tip your hat to him.”
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