New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom made his first minor-league rehab start Sunday since suffering a stress reaction in his right shoulder in spring training. DeGrom was scheduled for 25 pitches or two innings against the Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins) at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
"He's hit every benchmark, and we're happy with that," Mets manager Buck Showalter told MLB.com on Saturday. "We'll see how he does on Sunday, and we'll see if there's any adjustments to the schedule we have that need to be made. We know where it could take us."
Performance certainly wasn't an issue on Saturday as deGrom faced six hitters, striking out five and hitting the other with an errant pitch. He needed 24 pitches to get through his 1 2/3 innings, with 18 of those pitches being strikes. He was lighting up the radar gun, topping 100 miles per hour six times and averaging 99 miles per hour with his four-seamer. He was also effective with his cutter, throwing it eight times and getting five swings (all misses). It should be noted, of course, this was against Class A hitters who aren't used to seeing pitchers the caliber of deGrom.
Sunday's outing begins deGrom's 30-day minor league rehab clock. The Mets can activate him at any time during those 30 days, but the latest he can be activated is Aug. 1 (barring a setback). That is the day before the trade deadline, so the Mets will either have their ace back in the fold, or they'll know they need to supplement their pitching staff before the deadline.
Max Scherzer has missed close to seven weeks with an oblique injury and will rejoin the rotation Tuesday. The Mets have only three starting pitchers on their active roster at the moment. Here is the team's rotation depth chart:
- RHP Jacob deGrom (on minor league rehab assignment)
- RHP Max Scherzer (on injured list, will be activated Tuesday)
- RHP Chris Bassitt (on COVID list)
- RHP Tylor Megill (on 60-day injured list with shoulder strain)
- RHP Taijuan Walker
- RHP Carlos Carrasco
- RHP Trevor Williams
- LHP David Peterson (on paternity list)
DeGrom turned 34 last month and he has not pitched in an MLB game in close to a calendar year now. His last big-league appearance was last July 7, when he held the Milwaukee Brewers to two runs in seven innings. He was placed on the injured list with a forearm issue shortly thereafter. When he reported to camp this spring, he said the forearm was "perfectly fine."
Prior to last year's injury deGrom was having a dynamic season, pitching to a 1.08 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 15 starts and 92 innings. He has said he will opt out of the final year and $30.5 million remaining on his contract after the season. Seeing how the Mets gave Scherzer three years and $130 million at age 37, deGrom is poised to cash in nicely even with this injury.
Clover Park in Part St. Lucie is the Mets' spring training home and where deGrom has done the majority of his rehab work. He started his throwing program in May, after a series of MRIs showed good healing progress in his shoulder.
The Mets have a 49-30 record, and their NL East had been whittled down from 10 1/2 games on June 1 to only 3 1/2 games on July 4 over the Braves.