Chase Whitley vs. Jacob deGrom? Maybe, in Durham, North Carolina for the 2014 Triple-A All Star Game, but certainly not New York City during the Subway Series. Guess again. Thanks to their early season success and a spate of injuries suffered by the Yankees and Mets, the two young right handers were diverted from Tobacco Road to Broadway, and each pitcher did more than enough to earn an encore.
Whitley and deGrom weren’t on the Yankees’ or Mets’ radar this season, so each’s promotion from the minors to the spotlight of the Subway Series is remarkable in its own right. That the two pitchers wound up facing each other as starters makes the matchup historic. Since 1914, debuting starters had faced off in only 14 major league games, and for the Yankees, it was the first such occurrence since 1908, according to Elias.
Double Debuts: Matchups Between Starters Making First Big League Appearance
Note: On 5/13/2004, Daniel Cabrera and Felix Diaz made their debuts in different games of a doubleheader between the Orioles and White Sox.
Whitley and deGrom did more than just toe the rubber last night. Thanks to their efforts, the Yankees and Mets played the first 1-0 game in Subway Series history. Whitley, who was lifted in the fifth before surrendering a run, and deGrom, who limited the Yankees to one run over seven full innings (and broke the Mets’ pitchers’ equally historic stretch of hitless at bats with a single), combined to record a game score of 131, the second highest total among the aforementioned 15 games featuring debuting starters. Separately, deGrom’s game score of 69 and Whitley’s 62 were better than 90% and 78% of all major league debuts, respectively. It clearly wasn’t the script the Yankees and Mets had in mind entering the series, but it proved to be a noteworthy finale.
Aggregate Performance of All Starters Making MLB Debut, 1914-Current
Whitley and deGrom will likely earn an additional start or two as the Yankees and Mets lick their wounds, but will the two pitchers ever face each other again? It seems fanciful to think that what started as a novelty could become an annual Subway Series tradition, but even if the two righties never cross paths in the future, they’ll always have New York, which is a bit more glamorous than Durham.