Jacob deGrom injury: Mets ace to undergo MRI on tight shoulder, opening day start in question

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New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was scratched by Friday’s spring start and will instead undergo an MRI on his tight right shoulder. Manager Buck Showalter revealed the injury Thursday-evening, saying deGrom may not start as planned on Friday. The scratch was made official Friday morning, putting the Grom’s Opening Day start in dispute.

“We’re going to see how he is (Friday) morning before we scratch him,” Showalter told reporters on Thursday, including Bill Ladson of MLB.com. “But he needs to be pretty convincing to pitch him tomorrow. I’ll be surprised if he throws tomorrow – rain or no rain.”

deGrom last pitched five days ago on March 27, when he struckout five and completed three innings, and he looked very much like himself. He reported the tightness in the back of his shoulder after a long tossing and turning Thursday afternoon. It’s not uncommon for pitchers to come down with a “dead arm” for a few weeks in camp, though the short spring leaves no wiggle room this year.

Last season, a string of injuries, including back and forearm problems, limited deGrom to just 15 starts. He stopped pitching after July 7. When he reported to camp, deGrom said his elbow band was “perfectly fine” and that he had no other physical problems. Other than a brief battle with rotator cuff tendonitis in 2014, deGrom has never had shoulder problems in his career.

The Mets will open the season next Thursday in Washington. Should deGrom miss Opening Day, the rest of the rotation would presumably move up a day and Max Scherzer would begin the season opener. How much the Mets will get from deGrom and Scherzer this year is a big question† deGrom was injured last year and Scherzer will pitch this season at age 37.

Here’s the current chart of New York’s rotational depth. Here are some concerns about age and injuries:

  1. RHP Jacob deGrom (dealing with tense shoulders in spring training)
  2. RHP Max Scherzer (37 years)
  3. RHP Chris Bassitt
  4. RHP Taijuan Walker (6.79 ERA in the second half last year)
  5. RHP Carlos Carrasco (6.04 ERA in 12 starts around injuries)
  6. RHP Tylor Megil
  7. LHP David Peterson

Let’s say 40 starts from deGrom and Scherzer instead of 60 starts from deGrom and Scherzer could very well be the difference in the NL East race this year. It could be enough to make a difference in the postseason race put together. In short, deGrom is a pitcher who makes a difference, and losing him for any length of time would be devastating.

Around the injuries, deGrom, 34 in June, was fantastic in 2021. He threw to a 1.08 ERA and struckout 146 in 92 innings, keeping opponents on a .129/.160/.242 line. The two-time Cy Young winner has said he plans to forgo the senior year and has $30.5 million left on his contract after the season.

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