Jacob deGrom went for a follow-up MRI on his injured shoulder yesterday, and the team provided reporters (including Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News and Anthony DiComo of MLB.com) with an update late last night. According to the club, imaging showed “considerable healing of the stress reaction on his scapula.” Doctors have cleared deGrom to start “loading and strengthening” his shoulder, but he will not begin throwing. The team is likely to send deGrom for further imaging in around three weeks.
Certainly, it’s a positive to hear of “considerable healing.” deGrom told reporters just before Opening Day his shoulder had held up structurally, adding “once the bone heals, then we’ll be ready to go and build up from there and hopefully be healthy for the rest of the year.” That the bone has progressed in the three and a half weeks since then is a welcome development for his long-term prognosis.
That said, the announcement deGrom won’t yet start a throwing program seems to suggest he’s not especially close to returning. Both Thosar and DiComo indicate it’s unclear whether the team is ruling deGrom out from beginning a throwing program until his next imaging three weeks from now. If that proves to be the case, there’d be virtually no chance of the two-time Cy Young award winner returning at the start of June as had been hoped.
deGrom hasn’t pitched in a regular season game since July 7 of last year. He spent the second half of the season on the injured list recovering from an elbow issue. That brought an unfortunate early end to what looked as if it might be one of the most dominant performances by a pitcher in league history. deGrom returned this spring and made two starts in Grapefruit League play before feeling some shoulder soreness during a between-outings long toss session. The team sent him for an MRI, which revealed the stress reaction that has shut him down thus far.
In deGrom’s absence, the Mets opened the season with a rotation of Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt, Tylor Megill, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker. That’s an impressive top five even sans arguably baseball’s best arm. The top four pitchers have been excellent, with each member of that group posting an ERA and SIERA of 3.00 or lower through their first few starts.
Walker landed on the IL just two innings into his season debut because of shoulder bursitis, but he’s expected to return this weekend. Lefty David Peterson has stepped into his place and pitched very well himself. Only the Dodgers (2.09) have a better rotation ERA than the Mets’ 2.29 in the early going, a big reason New York has raced to a 13-5 start.