Mets ace Jacob deGrom is roughly 10 days away from beginning bullpen sessions, a team official tells MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. With this timeline in mind, deGrom’s best-case scenario would be a return in late September, though perhaps for only a game or two at the most. “Even then, it’s likely only to be in abbreviated spurts,” DiComo writes, so deGrom could be something of a glorified opener more than a proper starting pitcher.
Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner updated reporters (including Mike Puma of The New York Post) on deGrom’s current work, saying that the former NL Cy Young Award winner has been playing catch at 75 feet. Once deGrom reaches 125-130 feet, a bullpen session can be considered.
In short, there still isn’t much clarity about whether or not deGrom could return to the mound at all this season. It is fair to say that the Mets’ place in the standings will play a factor, as if the Mets aren’t in the playoff race, the team could decide to just shut deGrom down. That said, Hefner noted that “It just depends on how he reacts to the throwing. It’s no different than if we were in April. The timeline doesn’t change because we are in September. Obviously we want him to pitch, but we have to go through the necessary steps to make sure that he’s not only healthy this season, but he’s also healthy for the rest of his career.”
DeGrom last appeared in a game on July 7, as he was placed on the injured list due to forearm tightness and elbow inflammation. This 10-day IL stint was extended to a 60-day placement following a setback in his rehab, so deGrom isn’t eligible to return until September 15, though it appears he won’t be back when first eligible.
This long absence has spoiled an all-timer of a season for deGrom, who posted a 1.08 ERA over his first 92 innings of the season. While a lack of hitting has been the biggest problem for the Mets this season, it isn’t hard to imagine that a healthy deGrom could have carried New York into a playoff position, considering the Mets entered the day four games back in both the NL East race and the wild card race.