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MLB: Spotlight on Fernando Tatis Jr., Jacob deGrom in Padres-Mets series

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A city with no shortage of experience hosting “One Night Only!” shows gets to stage another one Friday night.

Early National League Most Valuable Player candidates Jacob deGrom and Fernando Tatis Jr. are slated to oppose each other for the second time in six days — and the last time in the regular season — Friday night, when the New York Mets host the San Diego Padres in the opener of a three-game series.

Two-time Cy Young Award winner deGrom (5-2, 0.62 ERA) will look to continue his historic start to the season when he takes the mound for the Mets against fellow former Cy Young winner Blake Snell (2-2, 4.83 ERA).

Both teams were off Thursday. The Mets earned a split of a two-game series against the host Baltimore Orioles by cruising to a 14-1 win Wednesday, when the Padres dropped the rubber game of a three-game set against the visiting Chicago Cubs by falling, 3-1.

deGrom earned the win last Saturday, when he tossed seven scoreless innings and allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out 11 in the Mets’ 4-0 victory over the Padres in San Diego.

“What do you say?” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said following the game. “He’s really freaking good.”

Maybe as good as anyone who has ever pitched. deGrom’s ERA is the lowest through nine starts of any pitcher with at least 40 innings since ERA became an official statistic in 1913, opening up the possibility he could not just place himself on the fast track to the Hall of Fame by winning a third NL Cy Young Award but perhaps the MVP as well.

Only four starting pitchers have won the MVP since divisional play began in 1969. The most recent ace to do so is Clayton Kershaw, who earned NL MVP honors after going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014.

“Everything is special,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said last Saturday. “Altogether, it’s something that I don’t think anybody else has in the world. This guy, we can single him out as the best pitcher out there.”

And Tatis might just be the best position player. The 23-year-old superstar shortstop basically battled deGrom to a draw last Saturday, when Tatis doubled for the Padres’ first hit in the second, hit into a fielder’s choice in the fourth and drew a four-pitch walk in the sixth.

Despite missing 18 games due to shoulder and oblique injuries as well as an asymptomatic bout with COVID-19, Tatis entered Thursday ranked tied for first in the NL in stolen bases with 13, tied for second in homers (17) and tied for fifth in RBIs (39).

Only three players in history have led their league in homers and steals in the same season — none since Chuck Klein hit 38 homers and stole 20 bases for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1932.

“You can’t pitch around him because he can get on … and beat you on the bases,” Tingler said. “It’s just such a weapon to have offensively.”

Snell had his best start as a member of the Padres on June 4, when he carried a no-hitter into the seventh and allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out 10 over seven innings as he earned the win in the Padres’ 2-0 victory over the Mets.

deGrom is 5-3 with a 1.40 ERA in nine career starts against the Padres. Snell is 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts against the Mets.

–Field Level Media

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