deGrom transferred to 60-day IL as timeline pushed back

June 6th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were well aware of the risks when signing to a five-year, $185 million deal in December.

And while the risks were worth it, they have manifested themselves early in the right-hander’s Texas tenure as the club announced on Monday that deGrom had been moved to the 60-day injured list.

The announcement comes after weeks of deGrom working to return from right elbow inflammation, diagnosed after he left an April 28 start against the Yankees with right forearm tightness. He was placed on the injured list the next day. June 28 is the first day he's eligible to be activated.

General manager Chris Young said he wouldn’t quite call it a setback for deGrom, noting that the elbow just hasn’t improved as quickly as the team would have liked or hoped. The plan is for him to get another MRI early this week in order to evaluate the progress and go from there.

“There was an amount of inflammation in the elbow [in the MRI in April], and we want to make sure that's gone,” Young said. “That inflammation was a change from the physical MRI that he underwent when we signed him. So obviously, we want to see progress with that, but we also want to see progress in the symptoms and the ability to recover and bounce back, and those things are equally important.”

The right-hander last threw a bullpen when the team was in Detroit on Wednesday, but he then returned home to Florida for the birth of his third child and did not throw while away from the team. He also threw 31 pitches in a bullpen session on May 26 in Baltimore, and Texas manager Bruce Bochy said deGrom "felt fine" at the time -- which was also the first day he threw sliders and changeups since going on the IL.

deGrom was expected to begin the process of returning to the mound this week after undergoing scans to assess his progress, but obviously, he will not be back on the mound as soon as previously expected.

“These things aren't linear in terms of recovery,” Young said. “You test it, you deal with an element of soreness or discomfort and you determine how much that impacts the next steps. With arms, they're just hard because of this, that is not perfectly linear in terms of the recovery. I think that there have been good days and bad, as with most recoveries.”

Right elbow inflammation erased the second half of deGrom's 2021 season, in addition to other injury woes in recent years.

When he has pitched, though, he’s been the deGrom that everybody expected him to be. In 30 1/3 innings this season, the ace has a 2.67 ERA and 45 strikeouts. The Rangers are undefeated in his six starts.

“I believe he's the best in the world when he's pitching,” Young said. “I can't describe it -- it's just captivating when he's on the mound. It's special. I hate that for our fans that he's not out there right now. The decision to bring him here was a five-year decision, and we're taking that into consideration in terms of our proceedings here. But when he's out there, there's nobody better.”

Since deGrom landed on the IL, the Rangers’ rotation has stepped up big, posting a 2.84 ERA since April 29. That’s first in the Majors over that period.

“They're very talented, competitive baseball players who want to be good, and they expect to be good,” Young said. “With the free agents, that's why we signed them. With Dane [Dunning], that's why we traded for him, and with Martín [Pérez], the organization knew that before we brought him back. These guys want to be as good as they can. ... That explains why they [have had this success].”

Even so, Young said it’s obvious that deGrom is frustrated with the predicament he’s found himself in once again. He’s happy the team is winning, as the Rangers stand atop the American League West. But he obviously wants to be part of that winning on the field as much as he is off of it.

“Jacob is going to pitch for the Texas Rangers, I'm very confident in that,” Young said. “I can't tell you the timing, but I know the player, the work ethic, the commitment to being out there, so I’m very confident.

“He wants to be out there. You want to push to be out there, but you don't want to push at the risk of making things worse. The only person who truly knows is Jacob and how he's feeling, and he's great at communicating with us. We know he feels this responsibility to the organization, to his teammates and to the fans."