deGrom, Thor on track to return next week

September 21st, 2021

BOSTON -- It is with increasing confidence that the Mets can say their two most prominent pitchers, and , will return before the end of the season.

Syndergaard is scheduled to make the first of (likely) two Minor League rehab appearances on Wednesday for Triple-A Syracuse, setting him up for his long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery as early as next week at Citi Field. deGrom, meanwhile, threw an unabridged bullpen session at Fenway Park on Tuesday for the first time since July; while deGrom is further behind than Syndergaard, he still anticipates returning before the end of the season.

Asked specifically if he expects to pitch again this year, deGrom, who is dealing with right elbow inflammation, replied: “If everything keeps going well. I feel good.”

Barring an 11th-hour run up the National League East standings, there is little competitive reason for the Mets to bring back either deGrom or Syndergaard from long-term elbow injuries. However, both players have pushed to return, wanting to reestablish themselves before heading into the offseason.

For Syndergaard, returning would mean avoiding a situation in which he would go 31 consecutive months without pitching in a big league game. For deGrom, it would mean avoiding a nine-month layoff.

“It’s important to see the guys healthy, and what they can be,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We’re still working our way into closing the gap for a spot for going to the playoffs, which is our main goal. Those two will come in handy if they’re at their best.”

deGrom was in the midst of a historic season before chronic elbow trouble forced him to shut down from throwing in July. He still owns a 1.08 ERA over 92 innings this season, which could be enough to garner some down-ballot NL Cy Young Award votes.

Syndergaard has not pitched in an MLB game since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020. The Mets originally hoped that he could return in June, but a bout of elbow discomfort prompted the team to shut down his initial Minor League rehab assignment in May. He’s been working his way back ever since, most recently dealing with another delay when he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Rojas said that Syndergaard will likely only need two days of rest between rehab appearances, putting him on track to return to the Mets as soon as Sept. 28 against the Marlins. He is only throwing fastballs and changeups for the rest of this season as a way to reduce strain on his elbow.

deGrom, being further behind, might not return until the season’s final weekend in Atlanta.