|Mets' deGrom tries to bolster Cy Young hopes vs. Braves|
NEW YORK - Jacob deGrom may never be willing to look back on his record-setting 2018 season, at least publicly.
But as the New York Mets ace gets ready for his final scheduled start of the season Wednesday night, Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker is more than willing to marvel at deGrom's success - and how his unrewarded dominance against the Braves symbolizes a Cy Young candidacy like no other in history.
DeGrom will get one more chance to burnish his National League Cy Young Award resume Wednesday night, when he takes the mound for the Mets in the middle game of a three-game series against the NL East champion Braves at Citi Field.
DeGrom (9-9, 1.77 ERA) is lined up to face Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb (12-9, 4.04 ERA).
The Braves earned a 7-3 win in the opener Tuesday night, when they came back from a 3-0 deficit by scoring all their runs in the seventh and eighth inning. Atlanta (89-68) entered Tuesday a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the race for the second seed and home-field advantage in the NL Division Series.
DeGrom's other-worldly statistics outside of his won-loss record appears to have him ahead of the Washington Nationals' Max Scherzer and the Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Nola in the three-way race for the Cy Young.
In addition to leading the majors in ERA and ranking second (behind Scherzer) in WHIP, strikeouts, strikeout-to-walk ratio and innings pitched, deGrom has set single-season big league records by allowing three runs or fewer in his last 28 starts and throwing a quality start in each of his last 23 outings.
But deGrom wasn't ready to try to put his season into context last Friday, when he earned the win by allowing one run over seven innings as the Mets beat the Washington Nationals, 4-2.
"When I reflect on the season, it may sink in a little bit," DeGrom told reporters. "But you've got to prepare for next season."
By that point, he'll know whether or not the Mets' remarkable lack of support cost him the Cy Young. New York has scored just 83 runs for deGrom while he's been on the mound in his 31 starts. He has allowed three runs or fewer over at least six innings yet not recorded a win 19 times, which is also a record.
Outside of the Mets (73-84), nobody knows deGrom's hard-luck story better than the Braves. DeGrom is 0-2 despite a 1.09 ERA in five starts this season against Atlanta, which has won all five games.
"You don't like to face him, but man, I love watching him compete, how he gets after it, how he competes, and the stuff - everything," Snitker said Tuesday afternoon. "The record and all that's probably not what he wants, but you watch that guy and how he goes out there every time. I like turning the TV on and watching him pitch.
"It's a challenge. I mean, you don't look forward to facing a guy like that. But those guys - (that's) what we do, competition. And he's the best."
While deGrom will be looking to lock up the Cy Young, Newcomb will be hoping he can make a last-ditch case for a spot in the Braves' postseason rotation.
Newcomb, who is likely vying with right-hander Anibal Sanchez to be the fourth starter in the playoffs, took the loss in his previous start Sept. 16, when he allowed five runs over three innings as Atlanta fell to the Nationals, 6-4.
The 25-year-old southpaw is 2-4 with a 6.52 ERA in eight starts since coming within one out of no-hitting the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 29.
DeGrom is 5-5 with a 1.83 ERA in 16 career starts against the Braves. Newcomb is 2-2 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts against the Mets.