One year and one day after his last MLB appearance, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom made his second minor league rehab start Friday night as he works his way back from a stress reaction in his right shoulder. He predictably overwhelmed Low Class A hitters, striking out six in three scoreless innings for the St. Lucie Mets against the Daytona Tortugas (Reds). He threw 36 pitches (box score).
“Coming off the first time in a game, being on a five-day routine, I felt really good. I was happy to get out there and get three complete innings,” deGrom told reporters after the game (via MLB.com). “… It was really cool, how many people came out tonight. Growing up around here, seeing the support from this community is awesome.”
deGrom has not pitched in a big league game since last July 7 because of multiple arm injuries. He went down with a flexor issue last year before suffering the stress reaction in his shoulder in spring training. deGrom struck out five of his six batters he faced in his first rehab start earlier this week.
“It’s step by step, but I have been following the process how it was laid out and just trying not to do too much,” deGrom told reporters (via MLB.com). “Everything feels good. Pitching my first game in a couple months (last time), I responded really well and was able to go out there and throw three innings tonight. Hopefully, I’ll keep moving forward like this and be back in the big leagues before too long.”
The Mets have not announced when deGrom will rejoin their rotation, though at least one more rehab start is in the cards, and likely two. deGrom is essentially going through spring training right now and needs to build arm strength (though he hit 100 mph several times in his first rehab start) and pitch count. Four innings and 50 pitches is likely the goal for the next rehab start.
Max Scherzer rejoined the rotation earlier this week after missing roughly seven weeks with an oblique injury. The Mets are also without breakout righty Tylor Megill, who is on the 60-day injured list with a shoulder issue, so there is a need in the rotation. The trade deadline is less than four weeks away and the Mets surely want to get a look at deGrom in an MLB game before then.
deGrom, 34, was marvelous prior to last season’s flexor injury, throwing 92 innings with a 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts. Despite this year’s shoulder injury, he has said he will opt out of the final year and $30.5 million remaining on his contract after the season.
At 52-32, the Mets sit in first place in the NL East, though their lead has been whittled down to 2 1/2 games over the Atlanta Braves. It was 10 1/2 games on June 1. The two teams begin a three-game series Monday in Atlanta.