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Friday 19th Jan 2018

This past week, rookie National League hurlers Jacob deGrom and Anthony DeSclafani were again in the news, though for much different reasons.

On Monday, deGrom tied the Major League Baseball record with eight consecutive strikeouts at the start of the New York Mets’ game against the Miami Marlins. Ironically, it was the opposing pitcher who broke the streak.

DeSclafani was not deGrom’s starting pitching counterpart for the Fish that evening. The right-hander is appealing a three-game suspension for intentionally hitting Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez after an official warning was in effect.

To an extent, one can see why DeSclafani did what he did.

After all, it was the same contest in which an errant offering from Brewers hurler Mike Fiers caused serious facial injuries to Giancarlo Stanton, who left the ballpark in an ambulance. Not only that, but Fiers struck the following batter, Reed Johnson, with his very next pitch, yet remained in the game.

Sadly, the retaliation/suspension may be the highlight of DeSclafani’s unremarkable rookie season, while deGrom is considered one of the two front-runners for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, along with Cincinnati centerfielder Billy Hamilton.

You might be wondering why I used the word “again” in my opening sentence.

Their unusual last names have forever tied the two pitchers together in my mind. It began the week of May 14 when the two were called up to the bigs almost simultaneously.

DeSclafani, the beneficiary of the season-ending elbow injury suffered by star Jose Fernandez, was promoted from Triple-A New Orleans to make his MLB debut on May 15. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed just two runs in six innings while earning a win at all places, Dodger Stadium. If he can win there, he can win anywhere, right?

That same night, deGrom made his first major league start, summoned to the Mets to step in for the injured Dillon Gee. At home against the Yankees and in front of a national audience, deGrom impressed, allowing just one run in seven innings. Yet with no run support, he took the hard-luck loss.

After that pair of personally successful first outings, the two were part of the National League Tout Wars talent pool for that Sunday night’s bidding.

The DeSclafani-Fernandez connection was most ironic, as the latter was the best single FAAB addition in NL Tout in 2013. His injury replacement was positioned to potentially accomplish the same in May 2014, with 4 ½ months of play still ahead.

Bidding was spirited, but semi-cautious for both players. I remember this all too well, as I acquired neither. They both sold for the exact same amount, $14, with the Met going to Phil Hertz and the Marlin to Lenny Melnick on May 19.

That is probably the last time the two pitchers were mentioned together until now.

DeSclafani was slapped around by the Phillies in his second start and was returned to Triple-A for the first of three demotions this season. Melnick had enough and dropped his $14 acquisition.

Back in June for three starts, Anthony yielded a symmetric, yet ugly and unlucky, 13 runs in 13 innings. Gene McCaffrey apparently saw something to like, adding DeSclafani for a buck just in time to absorb a two-run-in-three-inning start that was actually his best of a bad June. Two weeks later, the Marlin was back on the waiver wire.

When brought back to the bigs for a third time briefly in August and again with expanded rosters in September, DeSclafani was sent to the bullpen, where his fantasy value is zilch.

On the other hand, deGrom took off like the promise of a top prospect might suggest. The 26-year-old right-hander has made 21 starts and has compiled a stellar 2.68 ERA to go with 134 strikeouts in 134 1/3 frames. He has just eight wins in part due to the Mets' anemic offense.

deGrom has helped Hertz hold the NL Tout season lead in both ERA and WHIP while Melnick is dead last in both categories. (In the spirit of openness, both are ahead of me in the overall league standings.)

Certainly how the two chose to spend their respective $14 on May 19 is not the only reason they are where they are. Yet it serves as a great reminder to use whatever FAAB it takes early on to get difference-makers - but keep expectations in check. Understand for every deGrom, there is bound to be a DeSclafani or two or three.

At least these two owners were trying. Coming in second in FAAB bidding, or even worse, not bidding at all, leads to nothing other than the kind of regret that leads to articles like this instead of celebrating winning titles. The former is something I want to avoid in 2015 so there can be more of the latter.

Please join me! 

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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