Days before New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was set to step on the mound for Opening Day 2022, the two-time Cy Young Award winner is now being sidelined by another arm injury.
During long toss in preparation for his final start of spring training, deGrom felt tightness in his right shoulder.
While there is still an outside possibility that he could make a spring training start in the coming days, Mets’ skipper Buck Showalter cast doubt on deGrom stepping foot on the mound Friday.
“We are going to see how he is in the morning before we scratch him. But he has to be pretty convincing to pitch him tomorrow. I’ll be surprised if he pitches tomorrow — rain or no rain.”New York Mets manager Buck Showalter on Jacob deGrom
The timing couldn’t be much worse for the Mets. deGrom was already announced as the Opening Day starter, scheduled to face the Washington Nationals on April 7 at Nationals Park.
New York can easily move Max Scherzer into the Opening Day slot, featuring its prized free-agent signing and the future Hall of Famer to begin the 2022 MLB season. However, the latest injury setback for deGrom highlights the risks with the Mets’ rotation and their biggest star.
Related: 2022 MLB rotation rankings
Why the Jacob deGrom injury is concerning
When healthy, deGrom is arguably the best pitcher in baseball. The 33-year-old posted a 1.08 ERA and held opponents to a .128 batting average last season, striking out 45.1% of opponents and making an early case in the MLB MVP race.
Unfortunately, a historic season was derailed by injuries. After first landing on the 10-day injured list for an injury to his right side in May, deGrom then experienced elbow and shoulder issues in June. By July 15, the Mets moved their ace to the 60-day injured list with a slight UCL tear in his pitching elbow.
deGrom arrived for spring training fully healthy, confident he could avoid any recurring issues in 2022. New York brought him along slowly in the Grapefruit League, limiting him to five innings thus far. Because of the MLB lockout and a desire to protect deGrom, the Mets planned to limit his workload at the start of the regular season.
- Jacob deGrom stats (2018-’21): 1.94 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 774/119 K/BB ratio across 581 innings
The best-case scenario would be deGrom’s tightness being a minor issue that goes away with rest and rehabilitation. However, one of the hardest throwing pitchers in MLB hasn’t seemed to have positive injury luck on his side over the past year and arm issues get worse with age.
New York stabilized its rotation this offseason by signing Scherzer and acquiring Chris Bassitt. However, there remains an immense risk with Carlos Carrasco a durability risk and Taijuan Walker’s injury history.
If deGrom’s shoulder trouble persists, it derails the Mets’ World Series hopes and greatly diminishes their chances in the NL East. For the time being, Tylor Megill will need to take on an even bigger role than the Mets planned.