Here's when Max and Jake could be back

June 30th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo's Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer will be back soon.

Really. While there appears to be a segment of the fan base unwilling to believe it, both deGrom and Scherzer should return to the Mets within a matter of weeks (or sooner). When they do, the second part -- realistically, the most important part -- of the Mets’ season can begin.

Scherzer will arrive first. He made a second rehab appearance for Double-A Binghamton on Wednesday night, declaring that he won't need any additional Minor League starts after stretching out to 80 pitches. Assuming team officials are on board with that plan, it lines Scherzer up to start during the Mets' upcoming road trip in Cincinnati.

Of course, Scherzer’s return to full strength was always an inevitability. deGrom’s seemed less so, given the fact that he’s approaching the one-year anniversary of his most recent big league appearance. Since that time, elbow and shoulder issues have conspired to keep deGrom on the periphery of the team’s plans. It hasn’t helped that Mets officials have been tight-lipped about deGrom’s progression, preferring to keep his rehab mostly secret rather than divulge a timeline that might not hold true.

That has led many to doubt deGrom’s ability to return to the mound, which simply isn’t reasonable. deGrom is healthy right now. He’s in the process of building back up his shoulder strength. Based on his recent run of live bullpen sessions (and the expectation that he could begin a Minor League rehab assignment soon), the two-time Cy Young Award winner should return in the second half of July.

And so the Mets will have their two aces back in the rotation sooner rather than later. That’s important. Even more crucial is whether those two can stay healthy over the balance of the season and into October -- no small feat for deGrom, who hasn’t been a consistent contributor since 2019, and Scherzer, a 37-year-old who hasn’t delivered a 200-inning season since '18.

Heading into Spring Training, it seemed obvious that the 2022 Mets would go as Scherzer and deGrom go. That’s still true. You’re going to hear a lot of talk in the coming weeks about possible upgrades for the rotation, bullpen and lineup, all of which could help the Mets. But make no mistake: deGrom and Scherzer loom more important than any of it.

If those two are healthy in September and October, the Mets will be World Series contenders. If not, the road will be a whole lot more difficult.