After what will have been a 391-day wait, one of baseball’s best pitchers is set to finally take the mound in a major league game. Two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who last pitched for the Mets on July 7, 2021, is expected to return from injury Tuesday night against the Nationals in Washington.
In the 2021 season, in what had looked like his best year yet, deGrom missed the final three months with a throwing arm elbow injury. He showed up for 2022 spring training healthy, but days before the season opener landed on the injured list again, this time with a stress reaction in his right shoulder blade.
Finally healthy and armed with a plan to stay that way, deGrom met journalists Sunday before his season debut. He told them that “it didn’t take long” for his shoulder to feel good again, but that he and the Mets coaching staff took a deliberate approach to rebuilding it.
“We looked at why we thought this happened with the rapid ramp-up,” he said, alluding to the delayed and prolonged spring training caused by the labor dispute between the owners of the Major. League Baseball and the Players Union. “We played it safe by taking extra days and making sure everything was where we wanted it to be. That way, there were no setbacks. »
DeGrom, who had a 1.08 ERA over 92 innings last year, told reporters he was confident he could stay healthy for the rest of this season. He added: “Everything healed and I felt great throughout the process.”
He also reiterated his hope of exercising the opt-out clause in his five-year, $137.5 million contract extension, setting aside the $30.5 million due in 2023 for a chance to close. a bigger deal.
DeGrom, 34, returns to a Mets team that remains in first place in the NL East after Sunday’s 9-3 victory over the Miami Marlins, but saw its lead over defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves shrink to three games.
First baseman Pete Alonso, who collected his 85th batted run on Sunday, was a consistent bright spot on offense, and the Mets welcomed their other ace when Max Scherzer returned from the injured list in early July. But even if things fall into place for the team, the front office, which added a few minor items, could be active again before MLB’s trade deadline on Tuesday.
“Certainly excited,” deGrom told reporters. “It’s been a long time. It’s been a pretty slow process to come back. Excited to be there. The nerves haven’t really settled in yet, but I’m sure Tuesday I’ll be quite nervous, and I feel like it will look like my beginnings.