The New York Mets are, as of Thursday afternoon, third in the National League East with a 60-60 record.
That’s far worse than where they were before the All-Star break: leading the division with a multi-game advantage.
Now, their recent skid has left them 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the division lead.
Part of the reason the team fell off a cliff is the injury crisis.
The Mets have had to play without their biggest stars for stretches: Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Kevin Pillar, Albert Almora Jr., Taijuan Walker, Noah Syndergaard, Carlos Carrasco, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Dellin Betances, Robert Gsellman, and others are either currently on the shelf or spent some time on the injured list.
Lindor is nearing a return from an oblique strain, but the reports on deGrom are not so encouraging.
A Clear Shutdown Candidate
Currently out with right elbow inflammation, the last official statement on deGrom is that he is still in the middle of a two-week shutdown period that started on August 13.
The update on Jacob deGrom is that his two-week shutdown is still in place, Rojas said.
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 17, 2021
After that point, he would be reevaluated to see if he can start throwing.
That date would be August 27, which is about the cutline for expecting him to contribute again this season or running out of time to fully ramp up and return in September.
However, while the official word remains that deGrom will wait until late August for another evaluation, Pat Ragazzo of SI.com reported on Wednesday that the Mets were ‘leaning towards’ just shutting him down for the rest of 2021.
That would seem like the logical choice.
Granted, the Mets are currently in an uncomfortable limbo, because they are 60-60, but they are not that far from the NL East top spot.
But the health of their ace should be the primary aspect to consider here, regardless of their place in the standings.
deGrom has experienced tightness, discomfort, soreness, and pain in just about every part of his pitching arm this season.
He has dealt with side issues, elbow inflammation, shoulder tightness, and also forearm problems.
So far, none of those injuries have represented a major threat to his 2022 availability, but his current elbow inflammation has already taken several weeks off his 2021 season.
There Is No Need To Push His Arm
And there is always the chance that he damages elbow ligaments if he is forced to alter his delivery in the slightest.
So far, no damage in his elbow ligaments has been reported, but if the Mets push him to return sooner than he is ready for, the consequences could be catastrophic and could even affect the 2022 Mets.
deGrom was in the middle of perhaps his best season yet, which is something considering he has won two Cy Young awards.
He is 7-2 with a 1.08 ERA in 15 starts.
Lowest ERA among 394 pitchers with a min. 30 IP this season:
— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) August 18, 2021
In 92 innings, the Mets’ ace struck out 146 and has an otherworldly 0.55 WHIP.
Of course, having deGrom would increase the Mets’ playoff chances, but he is not even stretched out at the moment.
He would need to play catch, throw bullpens, face hitters, go on a rehab assignment, and then return to the Mets.
He may not be ready until mid-to-late September even if he was cleared on August 27.
Is it really worth the trouble for one or two starts down the stretch in which he wouldn’t be at his best?NEXT: New York Mets Players Can’t Be Happy With Steve Cohen