The effort dropped deGrom's ERA for the season down to an improbably wee 0.62. That figure not only leads all of MLB by a wide gap -- Lance Lynn is in second place with an ERA of 1.23 -- but it's also a modern record for lowest ERA through the first nine starts of a season:
Jacob deGrom has an 0.62 ERA through 9 starts this season.— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) June 6, 2021
That’s the lowest ERA by any pitcher through his 1st 9 starts of a season since ER became official in both leagues in 1913 (min 40 IP).
As well, deGrom's current WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) is also a record through nine starts:
Jacob deGrom has an 0.57 WHIP this season through 9 starts— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) June 6, 2021
That's the lowest WHIP by any pitcher through his 1st 9 starts of a season since at least 1901 (min 40 IP)
Not once in those nine starts has deGrom allowed more than one earned run, and in five of those nine starts he's blanked the opposition. In his 58 innings this season, he's struck out 93 batters while walking just eight.
At this point, it's worth pondering whether deGrom might be able to set the full-season record for ERA. Here's the current leaderboard since 1900:
Dutch Leonard, Red Sox
Mordecai Brown, Cubs
Bob Gibson, Cardinals
Christy Mathewson, Giants
Walter Johnson, Senators
As you can see, deGrom would be walking with the pitching gods if he winds up cracking this list. It's worth noting that four of those five pitchers played during the Deadball Era, and Gibson authored his legendary season during an era in which runs were at an absurd premium.
While the current era is rich with strikeouts and low on hits, power is still abundant. As such the current league ERA of 4.06 is a bit on the high side in historical terms. In other words, deGrom when it comes to run prevention isn't really benefiting all that much from the league environment (his strikeout totals are another story). If we turn to ERA+, which takes ERA and adjusts it for league and ballpark conditions, we find that deGrom's current figure of 624, which means his park- and league-adjusted ERA is 524 percent better than the league mean (!), would be an all-time record by a cavernous margin.
If you've watched deGrom pitch this season, then all of this tracks. He's long had elite stuff and a full repertoire with which he can attack both sides. This season, however, he's added velocity even though he's never been lacking in that regard. Right now, deGrom is averaging 99 mph with his fastball, which is an exceptional figure for a starting pitcher even in the current velocity-rich game. He's also averaging 92 mph with his slider, which isn't far shy of the average fastball velocity in MLB. Throw in his elite command and you've got an ace of aces.
Related to all of this is the emerging reality that deGrom will almost certainly be the National League's starting pitcher in the All-Star Game. Peers like Brandon Woodruff of the Brewers and Kevin Gausman of the Giants, among select others, have compelling cases, and in most years they'd be co-favorites for the honor. DeGrom, though, has been on another level in terms of run prevention and bat-missing, and as a two-time Cy Young winner he also pairs star power with those merits. He's not new to high-level performance, as his 1.94 ERA since the start of the 2018 season will attest.
Regarding his potential appointment with ERA history, perhaps health is the main impediment. DeGrom has a history of elbow problems, and earlier this season he spent time on the injured list with side/lower back issues. At his velocity levels, you naturally worry about arm health. If he's able to stay healthy enough to register a qualifying number of innings in 2021, then deGrom might just mount a serious challenge to the all-time single-season ERA record. He's already nine starts toward such a lofty goal.