Strasburg vs. deGrom: Who Has More to Prove Tonight?

Jacob deGrom and Stephen Strasburg square off today in a big battle at Citi Field. Who has more to prove?

Stephen Strasburg vs. Jacob deGrom would normally provide a surefire pitching duel. You've got a former first overall fireballer and the reigning Rookie of the Year -- what more could you ask for?

However, Strasburg is off to a rocky start of the year, sporting a 4.88 ERA through four starts and a 1-2 record. deGrom came out hot in his first few starts, then he was rocked by his cross-town rival for six runs in five innings.

The Nationals are off to a disappointing start, while the Mets are the hottest team in baseball, so both starters have additional pressure. But which has the most to prove tonight?

Stressing Over Strasburg

It’s safe to say that the Washington Nationals righty has had a disappointing April to open up 2015. Sporting a 1.625 WHIP -- largely due to allowing 12 hits per nine innings -- hitters are seeing the ball well off of Strasburg. While his 2.89 FIP shows signs for promise down the road, his 4.88 ERA can't be ignored.

The Washington starter has not enjoyed April for much of his career. He has a 3.25 ERA during the month -- his second highest in any month -- and his worst K/BB ratio (3.95). His opponents, too, hit their best against him at .251, leading to his highest WHIP in any month (1.257).

The number to look at for Strasburg is his strikeout-to-walk ratio. After his first four starts last year, Strasburg had a 3.67 K/BB ratio. This year, he’s a little lower at 3.29. He got smacked around even more last season in the early going (he had a 6.00 ERA and failed to get out of the fourth inning twice), so it will be interesting to see if Strasburg can turn it around in his fifth start like he did last year.

deGrom Back to Dealing?

The 2014 Rookie of the Year started off strong in his first three outings, but once he got his chance against the Yankees, he couldn’t find his stuff, giving up three homers and two walks over five innings. After the Yankees game, deGrom had a 2.96 ERA, but before that, he had a 0.93 ERA. It’s amazing what six earned runs over five innings can do to an ERA this early in the year.

What’s interesting about deGrom is how he responded after games like this last year. In 2014, he had two outings where he gave up five or more runs, and in the following outings, after each respective barnburner, he gave up zero runs. In both bounce-back starts, he went seven innings in both and combined for 12 strikeouts, 9 hits and 5 walks through those 14 innings.

Will he do it again this year? That’s the kind of play you expect out of an ace and would be a great sign for the Mets.

Who Has More to Prove?

In short, Strasburg has the most to prove.

Although, deGrom flopped in his last outing, he was lights out before. deGrom will have hiccups in 2015, given it’s his first season on the 25-man roster since Opening Day.

Strasburg, on the other hand, has one of the hottest teams in baseball to cool down tonight. Aces are expected to be able to shut down hot teams, so it will be a good test to see what he’s is made of.