Is there a case to be made for choosing the 25-year-old Bieber over the 32-year-old deGrom for the next four seasons?
Monday night on BNNY, the panel discussed the above question and had different answers.
Below, we’ll dissect the deGrom vs. Bieber hypothetical…
THE CASE FOR DEGROM
It feels blasphemous to even have to make a case for deGrom, but here it goes…
Since the start of the 2018 season, deGrom has been the best pitcher in baseball, and it isn’t particularly close.
During that span, he has a 2.03 ERA and 0.93 WHIP with 663 strikeouts (11.7 per 9) in 509 innings over 79 starts.
Even before starting his historic run in 2018, deGrom was incredibly good, posting a 2.98 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 731 strikeouts in 680.2 innings from his rookie season in 2014 through 2017.
DeGrom is also defying logic by getting better as he ages.
He had a career-best 13.8 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2020, and his fastball velocity keeps going up each season.
So far in 2021, deGrom’s average fastball has been 98.9 mph (up from 98.6 mph in 2020 and 96.9 mph in 2019). In 20 innings over three starts in 2021, deGrom has a 0.45 ERA and 0.70 WHIP and has struck out 35 batters.
DeGrom, whose fastball/slider/changeup arsenal is the most lethal in the sport, also has a burning desire to not only be great, but be an “inner-circle” Hall-of-Famer, which is something that is well within reach.
THE CASE FOR BIEBER
After posting a 4.55 ERA in his rookie season in 2018 (though his advanced stats were good) and 3.28 ERA in 2019, Bieber found another gear during the shortened season in 2020.
In 12 starts over 77.1 innings last season, Bieber had a 1.63 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with 122 strikeouts (14.2 per 9).
Bieber has picked up the 2021 season where he left off, with a 2.45 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 48 strikeouts in 29.1 innings.
As far as stuff, Bieber features a fastball that has hovered a tick above 93 mph for his career and also has a plus slider and plus curve.
While Bieber has been dominant for what amounts to a half season or so of pitching and could be on course to be a force for years to come, the sample size on him pitching at this level is still very small.
When discussing deGrom vs. Bieber for the next four seasons, the only thing that Bieber would seem to have on his side is age. But is that a false narrative?
Yes, Bieber is 25 and deGrom is 32, but deGrom started his career late due to a switch from shortstop to pitcher. He didn’t debut until his age-26 season and has far less mileage on his arm than most pitchers his age.
Beyond that, deGrom has already proven himself in the postseason, when he helped carry the Mets to an NLDS victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 — dominating in Game 1 and then gutting his way through without his best stuff in Game 5.
In Bieber’s only postseason appearance, he was lit up by the Yankees in the Wild Card game last season, allowing seven runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings.
If you take a step back and examine the big picture of what deGrom is doing right now, it becomes apparent that he’s in the midst of one of the best runs for any pitcher in the history of the sport.
He’ll need a few more seasons of dominance to reach the Sandy Koufax or Pedro Martinez level of outrageous runs, but there’s no reason to think he can’t get there.
And with deGrom’s killer instinct and eye on dominating into his 40s, the more appropriate question here might be “who would you rather have for the next 10 seasons?” The answer would still be deGrom.