The best-laid plans of mice and men — and Mets — often go wrong.
Fans in Queens and all across baseball were looking forward to watching Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer dominate atop New York’s rotation this season, but half of that dynamic duo is already on the shelf for an extended period.
Jacob deGrom injury update
After describing tightness in his right shoulder, deGrom underwent an MRI on April 1. The diagnosis: A stress fracture in his scapula (shoulder blade). The plan is for deGrom to not throw a baseball for four weeks before building himself back up for a month. That gives the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner an expected return date of either late May or early June.
This most recent bad news follows a season in which deGrom didn’t pitch after the All-Star break due to forearm and elbow issues. When he’s on the mound, he is unquestionably the best starter in MLB. After winning those Cy Youngs in 2018 and 2019, deGrom has compiled a 1.63 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP and 250 strikeouts in 160 innings since the start of 2020.
However, the stress fracture seemed destined considering how deGrom’s velocity has dramatically increased over previous few years. His fastball averaged 96 mph in 2018 and got faster in each of the past three seasons, up to 99.2 mph in 2021, which was deGrom’s age-33 season. It’s fair to ask if deGrom needs to dial it back just a couple of notches in order to improve his chances of staying on the mound.
The Mets’ starting rotation still looks pretty good even without its leader. Scherzer is 37 and has dealt with a supposedly minor hamstring injury this spring, but no one is doubting his ability to still be a true ace; he posted a 2.46 ERA with 236 strikeouts in 179.1 regular-season innings last year. Behind him, the Mets have Chris Bassitt, whom they acquired via trade last month and who registered a 2.90 ERA over the past two seasons with Oakland. The staff is rounded out by Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker, who was fantastic during the first half of the 2021 season.
With that group being supported by a Mets lineup that made a handful of moves before the lockout, bringing in Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar, New York should still compete for the top spot in the National League East this year.
But at one point, the Mets were considered by many as the favorites in their division. That’s no longer the case with deGrom on the mend; DraftKings Sportsbook sees the Braves as the current favorite (+120) with the Mets second (+195). Given his recent history, there’s no telling how long deGrom will be able to stay on the active roster before his body gives out again. Perhaps this leads to a change in his pitching style, one that is less reliant on maximum velo.
We won’t find out until late May at the earliest.