SEPTEMBER 9, 5:40 pm: Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reports that there’s only “an outside chance” deGrom will make it back this season.
SEPTEMBER 9, 4:45 pm: deGrom released a statement to reporters (including Mike Puma of the New York Post) this afternoon addressing his health status. “I know what was said and my ligament is perfectly fine. I have been throwing and I wouldn’t be if I had a compromised ligament. That’s the plan to continue to throw and build up and see where we end up.”
SEPTEMBER 8: Mets ace and two-time NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom hasn’t pitched in a game for two months now. The Mets, in somewhat typical fashion, have provided vague updates on his health throughout the process, repeatedly citing clean MRIs while simultaneously pushing back throwing sessions and shutting him down for additional spells to provide further relief from the inflammation in his elbow.
However, team president Sandy Alderson revealed to reporters last night that there was indeed something more concerning at play, though he insists the issue has now “resolved itself” (link via Newsday’s Tim Healey). DeGrom, according to Alderson, had the “lowest-grade partial tear” possible in his right ulnar collateral ligament.
That’s a much different outlook than was provided by manager Luis Rojas and acting GM Zack Scott, both of whom said at different points in the recovery process that there was no structural damage in deGrom’s elbow. Scott said back on July 30 there was no damage in the ligament, per Healey, and Rojas made the same assertion on Aug. 13. Clearly, surgery was not deemed necessary in the end, and Alderson insists that the ligament is now “perfectly intact” after two months away from game action. Nevertheless, it’s a rather perplexing contradiction from prior messaging on deGrom’s prognosis.
Any mention of even slight UCL damage for a pitcher is concerning — particularly when it’s regarding someone who has already undergone Tommy John surgery once in his career (prior to his MLB debut, in deGrom’s case). Alderson’s insistence that this is essentially a non-issue at this point could be taken as a sigh of relief for Mets fans, but those comments will be ripe for scrutiny if this does ultimately prove to be a more serious situation down the road.
At last check, the Mets had suggested that a best-case scenario for deGrom would be to appear in a few games late in the season — likely only in “abbreviated” fashion. The latest comments from Alderson don’t do anything to change that trajectory, but the transparency into deGrom’s diagnosis lends some critical context and clarity with regard to the team’s cautious approach in handling him.
DeGrom, 33, has pitched 92 innings this season and logged a superhuman 1.08 ERA with similarly absurd strikeout and walk percentages: 45.1 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. He’s still owed $64MM from 2022-23 combined (albeit with $27MM of that sum deferred 15 years), and his five-year, $137.5MM contract also contains a $32.5MM club option for the 2024 season. He can opt out of the remaining guaranteed year following the 2022 season.
The Mets trail the Braves by four games in the National League East and are three and a half games behind the Padres and Reds in the Wild Card standings.