NEW YORK -- Although the Mets officially placed Jacob deGrom on the injured list on Tuesday, pushing them into a short-term future without their ace, team officials expressed optimism that he could miss just one start.
That’s the best-case scenario for deGrom, whose absence may of course extend longer. For now, deGrom has already begun a throwing program that the Mets hope will keep his arm in shape while the tightness in his right side subsides.
“I didn’t think this was going to be anything long-term,” deGrom said. “It tightened up and I could feel it. The main concern was if I wasn’t able to get to where I wanted in my delivery, making sure I didn’t hurt my arm.”
That last part is why the Mets placed him on the IL. Even though an MRI revealed “nothing going on … no inflammation, no sprain, nothing,” as manager Luis Rojas put it, the fear is that deGrom’s right side tightness could affect his mechanics and cause greater harm. As such, the Mets took the cautious route.
“This is what happens sometimes when you’re tight from a particular area,” Rojas said. “You don’t feel pain, but it really causes you to move differently -- rotate, land. It causes a lot of things. You can lose your arm angle, and it can expose some things. Thank God it didn’t get that way. We don’t know exactly what caused it during the game, but I’m glad that Jake voiced it to us in the middle of the game there and told us. I thought this was an early catch just to prevent anything that could have been bad later.”
Upon departing Sunday’s game in the sixth inning due to tightness, deGrom received an MRI that night and refrained from throwing the following day, while the Mets’ medical and training staffs collaborated on a plan. He began playing catch off flat ground on Tuesday, with plans to throw a bullpen session at some point over the next week or so. If all goes well, deGrom could return when first eligible May 21 against the Marlins -- but the Mets won’t push him unless everything is trending well.
In addition to his throwing program, deGrom is receiving regular massages and other treatment for his side and lower back.
“He wants to correct this,” Rojas said.
Even though the tightness is located in a different part of deGrom’s right side than the lat inflammation that initially caused him to skip a start last week, deGrom said his overall mechanical problems are what led to both physical issues. He’ll try to iron those out during his flat-ground and bullpen sessions over the coming weeks.
“I was able to repeat my delivery and get it where I wanted in the bullpen,” deGrom said. “But when a batter stepped in, I wasn’t able to make the adjustment I needed to.”
With deGrom on the IL, the Mets recalled reliever Sean Reid-Foley to occupy his roster spot, giving them a 10-man bullpen. That’s by design: the Mets’ don’t need a fifth starter until May 18 in Atlanta, at which point they could turn to Jordan Yamamoto or another option.
In the interim, they will proceed with the following rotation:
Tuesday: Marcus Stroman
Wednesday: Taijuan Walker
Friday: David Peterson
On Saturday, the Mets are likely to operate in the same fashion as they did one week prior, when Joey Lucchesi provided bulk innings in what was essentially a bullpen game. Lucchesi, Tommy Hunter, Robert Gsellman and Reid-Foley are all capable of giving the Mets two-plus innings per outing -- and in Lucchesi’s case, significantly more than that -- if needed.
From the trainer’s room
• Third baseman J.D. Davis (sprained left hand) will not come off the IL when eligible on Wednesday. Davis has not been able to ramp up his swinging progression; he could do so in the coming days, but until then, the Mets won’t have a target date for his return.
• Brandon Nimmo (bone bruise in left hand) has been able to ramp up his own, similar swinging program. The Mets want him to take batting practice against high-velocity machines this week with an eye toward activating him as soon as he is eligible on Friday.
Plenty of curiosity awaits the Mets on Wednesday, with Matt Harvey set to face the Mets for the first time in his career. Harvey will also be returning to Citi Field for the second time since the Mets traded him to the Reds amidst massive struggles in 2018, although he didn't pitch when he visited Queens with Cincinnati in August of that season.
After producing a 7.92 ERA over two seasons split between the Angels and Royals from 2019-20, Harvey is experiencing something of a mini renaissance this year with the Orioles. Over his first seven starts, he is 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA, with 25 strikeouts in 35 innings.
“It’s got to be exciting for him to be back here and pitch,” said Rojas, who oversaw some of Harvey’s rehab from thoracic outlet syndrome in 2017. “I know he’s got great memories of helping the team get to the World Series and competing in the World Series against the Royals in ’15. So, I can’t imagine how excited he is to be here and see some old, familiar faces.”
Harvey pitched for the Mets from 2012-17, most notably leading their rotation during the ’15 World Series run.
Seaver statue delay
The Mets’ Tom Seaver statue, which had originally been scheduled for a late July unveiling, will not take place until Opening Day 2022. In a statement, team president Sandy Alderson said the artist creating the statue asked for an extension due to coronavirus-related delays.
“We are excited to unveil this one-of-a-kind tribute to Tom, but it has to be right,” Alderson said. “After conferring with the Seaver family, we made the decision to unveil the statue on Opening Day 2022.”
Groundbreaking for the statue has already taken place near the Home Run Apple outside Citi Field, but the statue itself will not occupy that space until next year.