deGrom lined up to return to Mets next week

July 27th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom’s next stop appears to be the Major Leagues and a long-awaited season debut.

After deGrom stretched out to 67 pitches in his fourth Minor League rehab start on Wednesday, Mets manager Buck Showalter confirmed that the team plans to activate deGrom from the injured list for his next rotation turn, which will likely be Tuesday in Washington. That plan would only change if deGrom experiences any abnormal soreness between now and then.

“All the things that we would be concerned about from the injury he had, none of that was there,” Showalter said. “His arm felt really good.”

Assuming the Mets give deGrom five full days of rest between starts, as they have throughout the latter portion of his rehab assignment, he would pitch Tuesday against the Nationals. The exact date could fluctuate by a day or so on either side, but that is his most likely return date from an injury that has kept deGrom sidelined all season.

deGrom has not pitched in the Majors since July 7, 2021, due to both his current injury -- a stress reaction in his right scapula -- as well as an inflamed elbow that sidelined him the entire second half of last season.

In his long road back, deGrom’s fourth rehab start didn’t go quite as smoothly as his first three. Pitching for Triple-A Syracuse against the Royals’ Omaha affiliate, deGrom allowed four runs on a pair of homers, including a three-run, opposite-field shot from prospect Drew Waters. deGrom also walked three batters and allowed four stolen bases in four innings, none of which bothered Mets officials much. They were more concerned with deGrom’s health and his pitch count of 67, which should prime him to throw around 80 in his season debut.

“He’s fine physically,” Showalter said. “His arm felt good.”

That was no certainty after the Mets pushed back a simulated game for deGrom last week due to abnormal shoulder soreness following his third rehab start. But the two-time Cy Young Award winner took the mound two days later and came away from it healthy, which allowed the team to clear him for a fourth rehab start at Syracuse.

After frequently touching triple digits over his first three outings, deGrom’s fastball velocity sat mostly in the 95-97 mph range on Wednesday, with his slider in the lower 90s. He twice struck out Royals All-Star catcher Salvador Perez, who is on his own rehab assignment with the Storm Chasers. But deGrom allowed homers to both Waters and Brewer Hicklen.

His final line -- four runs in four innings -- did not concern Showalter, despite the fact that it was easily the least successful of deGrom’s four rehab outings. The Mets understand that deGrom may need to ease his way back into form when he returns to the Majors, despite his 1.08 ERA over 15 starts last year when healthy.

“When you pitch at the level that he’s pitched at, I don’t know,” Showalter said of his expectations for deGrom. “I can’t sit here and say that I know. But it’ll be fun to find out.”