Jacob deGrom looked like the newly-minted National League MVP frontrunner at DraftKings, William Hill, and FanDuel sportsbooks Wednesday night.
However, will it be sweet but unfortunately short?
First, he was an electrifying machine. And then he looked human.
The two-time Cy Young winner from the New York Mets abruptly departed Wednesday’s game with shoulder soreness. It halted more than his budding three-inning masterpiece against the Chicago Cubs. It may hurt many futures bets for New Jersey online bettors, who have jumped on the most dominant pitcher in the game.
Odds on deGrom to win the MVP had dipped to as low as +170 at William Hill just before game time. Money will likely pour in on players like Fernando Tatis Jr and Ronald Acuna Jr. soon.
Of course, there is the unknown regarding deGrom, who is scheduled for an MRI today. However, deGrom told reporters on Wednesday “I’m pretty confident that this is nothing.”
What kind of impact this news has in and outside of the NJ sports betting world is to be determined.
Jacob deGrom has MVP numbers through 11 starts
The Mets ace hurler entered with an all-time best seasonal WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 0.53 and somehow lowered it. deGrom didn’t give up a baserunner, even drove in a run, and left with a 3-0 lead through three innings.
Out of the nine batters he faced, eight of them struck out. Nobody reached base. And then de Grom was gone.
The Mets’ ace lasted long enough to ensure some wagering victories on this game at least.
The 59% of DraftKings bettors who laid out a juiced -315 moneyline on the Mets, managed to collect. So did the 81% who took the -1.5-run line in the Mets’ 6-3 home victory.
Bettors and the public hope deGrom overcome the injury because his unpredictable health is more than a setback to bettors. It’s a blow to the game.
Besides his unheard-of mound numbers, deGrom is hitting .423. He’s given up four earned runs this season. And knocked in six.
He’s an excitement magnet.
The coast-to-coast showcase
deGrom’s ironic combination – brilliance and vulnerability – altered Wednesday’s imminent display of baseball royalty.
Because into this night walked deGrom and Clayton Kershaw, the two MLB active career leaders in WHIP. Into this night strode the last pitcher to win an MVP, Kershaw with the Dodgers in 2014, and deGrom, the leader for this year.
Kershaw later pitched against the Phillies in Los Angeles and looked more hittable than deGrom but the night nonetheless showcased both of them. Kershaw pitched six innings, yielding two runs in a game the Phillies won 2-0.
How dominant have these pitchers been?
WHIP is arguably the acid test of an excellent pitcher, measuring baserunners per nine innings. This reveals more than ERA, which can be impacted by how many inherited runners score and where one pitches. But WHIP incorporates walks and is ballpark neutral.
deGrom started the night with a 1.0205 career mark, fourth in major-league history. Kershaw stood at 1.0023, third, in a mark that spans more than 2,400 innings across 13-plus seasons.
New York Yankees relieving great Mariano Rivera was second at 1.0003. (Hall-of-Famer Addie Joss, who pitched from 1902-1910 for the Cleveland Bronchos, is first with 0.9678.)
The depth of excellence
deGrom has thrown 67 innings and notched a whopping 111 strikeouts this season. His strikeout-to-walk ratio, in which three would be strong, is almost 14.1.
He is on pace for shattering the single-season MLB WHIP record of 0.73, set by Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox in 2000.
Bettors who have cashed in on deGrom’s starts and the “under” when he’s pitched have long been familiar with his excellence. Prices on deGrom are short, but he’s been money in the bank to have a lead after five innings and some bettors just lay the juice, as they did Wednesday.
His WHIP for the last three years? Try 0.91, 0.97, and 0.95.
deGrom can sue the Mets for support if he wants. Despite winning Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019, his record for those two years was 21-17. The Mets have not been scoring for him.
The WHIP pace may not be sustainable, but how close can deGrom come to sweeping the Cy Young and MVP honors, without injury?
Jacob deGrom ‘really has a chance’
“I think deGrom really does have a chance to win both the Cy Young and the MVP award,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told NJ Gambling Sites before deGrom’s outing potentially changed the landscape. “The MVP award is standing right there. If the season ended now, he gets them both. We’re not halfway through the season yet and there’s a long way to go, but he’s having some season.”
Earlier in his career, Kershaw had mind-boggling numbers too.
He won the MVP in 2014 with a 21-3 record, 1.77 ERA, o.857 WHIP, and a no-hitter in the mix. It was the second season in a five-year string of sub 1.00 WHIP seasons, a span of nearly 1,000 innings.
Kershaw won both awards easily in the National League. Millville native Mike Trout captured the American League MVP honor that year.
A May injury to Trout opened up the 2021 AL MVP race.
Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays are the top pair. However, Avello believes Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox will draw money at attractive odds of +3300. So will other players.
“There is a long way to go and I think a few other names are going to get into this mix,” Avello said.
Jacob deGrom is ‘our largest liability’
FanDuel Sportsbook provided a Thursday morning update on deGrom. Besides being the favorite in the NL MVP market, he is FanDuel’s “largest liability” in that market.
FanDuel said deGrom is “more than two times the liability of our next player.” That player would be Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies.
FanDuel noted they saw the most interest in deGrom when his odds were moved from +6000 to +5000.
In terms of NL MVP handle, deGrom, Acuna Jr., and Tatis hold the top-three spots at FanDuel.
However, with bet count, Acuna Jr. Harper, and Tatis are leading the way.
Recent sweeps of the Cy Young and MVP awards
In 2011, Justin Verlander notched 250 strikeouts, a 24-5 record, and a sterling WHIP of 0.92 for the Detroit Tigers.
In 1992, Dennis Eckersley gained an unlikely sweep with the Oakland A’s. The “Eck” recorded 51 saves, easily winning the Cy Young portion and nipping Kirby Puckett for the MVP
In 1986, Roger Clemens fashioned a 24-4 mark with an ERA of 2.48 for the Boston Red Sox. He gained season-long visibility after notching 20 strikeouts in one early-season game and led them to the pennant.
But will deGrom be adding his name to this impressive list? It all depends on how many games, if any, he misses.
Based on the current odds at NJ online sportsbooks, deGrom will continue being a big part of the 2021 MLB betting conversation.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski