deGrom in line for spring after having surgery

September 20th, 2016

NEW YORK -- 's season has officially come to an end, as he underwent surgery to repair nerve damage in his right elbow at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York on Wednesday. The Mets expect deGrom to be ready for the start of Spring Training.

As recently as late last week, the Mets believed deGrom was healthy enough to pitch Sunday against the Twins. But when deGrom experienced pain shagging fly balls during batting practice, the team decided to shut him down. Doctors diagnosed deGrom with ulnar nerve damage, which general manager Sandy Alderson classified as "not unusual after Tommy John surgery." (deGrom underwent that procedure in 2010.)

deGrom's surgery consisted of moving the nerve to a location where scar tissue and inflammation would no longer irritate it. Though Tommy John operations require an average recovery time of more than a year, deGrom estimated his rehab from ulnar nerve surgery at approximately three months. That should put him on track to be ready well in advance of Spring Training.

It is nonetheless a difficult end to a challenging season for deGrom, who battled through a right lat issue in April before complaining of forearm soreness -- the precursor to his nerve damage diagnosis -- in late August. For weeks, the Mets attempted to let deGrom rest and work his way back to the mound, but the former National League Rookie of the Year Award winner could not stay consistently healthy. He went 0-3 with a 9.82 ERA over his final three starts, the last of them coming on Sept. 1, to complete his season with a 7-8 record and a 3.04 ERA.

In deGrom's absence, the Mets consider recovering rookie "good to go" for Friday's start. If Matz, who is returning from a left shoulder impingement, is unable to pitch, the Mets will turn instead to .

Perhaps more pertinently, deGrom's absence means that if the Mets make the postseason, their best-case rotation will consist of , Matz, and either or . is also out for the season due to surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome, and manager Terry Collins said recently that even Matz is a "long shot" to be helpful to the Mets in October.

deGrom was one of the Mets' best pitchers last postseason, memorably gutting through six innings in an NL Division Series Game 5 start against the Dodgers. He started four games in October, finishing 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA.