The Jacob deGrom news was good on Wednesday, and it’s clear the Mets are planning to proceed with the intention of having their ace pitch again this season, even if they have little to no hope at that point of winning the NL East.
Is that the right call?
I think it is, and obviously it is subject to change, depending how deGrom’s arm responds to a ramp-up over the next few four weeks and how he’s feeling about pitching again at that point.
But if all goes well, there is much to be gained by allowing deGrom to make a couple of starts, whether they’re meaningless in the standings or not.
After all, considering that multiple MRIs have shown no structural damage, there is no clear cause-and-effect reason regarding deGrom’s elbow inflammation, other than the obvious stress that comes with throwing 100 mph.
And deGrom can throw all the sim games he wants, but every pitcher will tell you it’s not the same as competing in a real game, when that extra bit of intensity is the ultimate test for any arm injury.
Likewise, every pitcher wants clarity when it comes to potential injury, and for deGrom to get that he’ll need to pitch. Otherwise he’ll spend the offseason wondering about what will happen, regardless of how much rest he gets, when he’s in a game throwing his full arsenal of pitches again.
Likewise, it’s crucial for the Mets to get as much clarity as well. If deGrom makes a couple of starts and comes through them without any more discomfort, they can have at least some confidence that they can count on him for 2022.
On the other hand, if he does experience pain in those starts it will make for a lot of uncertainty, hoping that a winter of rest will be a cure, at which point the Mets’ brass almost certainly would have to be more aggressive in pursuing pitching.
Otherwise everyone would just be guessing and hoping for the best. That’s what acting GM Zack Scott seemed to be saying when he told reporters on Tuesday, even before deGrom’s latest MRI results, that a shutdown wouldn’t make sense if there is no evidence of an injury.
“You shut down a guy because there are real, physical reasons to do that,” Scott said. “That may present itself as we start a ramp-up, but whether he pitches in a big league game or not, it’s important for us to know where he’s at, at the end of the season.”
Perhaps most significantly, it might affect the Mets’ decision on how much they’re willing to spend to re-sign Marcus Stroman as a free agent. After putting off free agency and betting on himself by taking the one-year qualifying offer for 2020, Stroman no doubt is going to be looking for a multi-year deal in excess of $100 million.
The Mets should want Stroman back, but their level of concern over deGrom could factor into how much they’re willing to pay him.
Maybe the price tag won’t be an issue for owner Steve Cohen, or he could decide to spend more heavily elsewhere, particularly in trying to upgrade his anemic offense.
And if the Mets get enough of a look at deGrom in September to feel reasonably confident that he’ll be healthy in 2022, they’ll also have Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco under contract next season, in addition to young pitchers such as Tylor Megill and David Peterson. In that case they might decide to look for a less expensive free agent starter or two for depth rather than pay for Stroman.
But it all starts with feeling one way or another about deGrom. He hasn’t pitched since July 7th and has had multiple injuries this season, though he insisted that all of them but the elbow inflammation were caused by swinging the bat rather than throwing.
Along the way, the Mets trusted deGrom to allow him to return quickly, at least before this latest injury, and they’re no doubt going to trust him again as he ramps up to pitch. Meanwhile, people who know deGrom well believe he’ll be honest every step of the way, knowing that he now has little to play for this season in terms of the Cy Young Award that once looked like a lock this season, or even to further build his case for the Hall of Fame, something he spoke openly about earlier this season as being important to him.
“We know he’s not going to be reckless about returning this season,” a Mets’ source said. “He wants to pitch at a high level for several more years. But he’s a competitor and I’m sure he’s going to want to pitch again (in September), as much for his own peace of mind as anything. He’ll be the one that determines how this goes.”
Yes, deGrom and the Mets need answers. Their position in the standings shouldn’t necessarily dictate whether they get them.
Source: Yahoo Sports