The New York Mets are still in the middle of a playoff push: they are third in the National League East division, but they remain at striking distance.
The 70-69 Mets are four games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves and 1.5 games behind the second-placed Philadelphia Phillies.
They have been playing without with the best pitcher in MLB, Jacob deGrom, since early July, as he was nursing what was deemed as right elbow inflammation.
He suffered a setback at one point and was ordered to shut it down for a few weeks, but now has the green light to throw from flat ground.
The Mets Revealed Details About deGrom’s Injury
On Tuesday, Mets president Sandy Alderson revealed that deGrom actually dealt with a “very mild” UCL sprain in his right elbow.
The ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL, is the one related to the dreaded Tommy John surgery if there is significant damage.
Alderson, however, said that the sprain was very mild and it resolved itself.
It seems like a miracle of science, or something isn’t quite right.
However, the official word from the team is that the ligament is perfectly intact, based on the MRIs and clinical evaluations through the doctors.
Now, the question remains: Should the Mets even entertain the possibility of deGrom rejoining the team and pitching again in 2021?
While it’s true they remain alive in the playoff hunt, the most logical thing to do is to shut him down, recharge batteries, let the ligament rest, and begin a normal throwing program with 2022 in mind.
A potential return remains too risky for the Mets: one misstep could mean Tommy John surgery, and, as a result, the star pitcher would also miss 2022 and possibly a portion of 2023.
I’m calling Sandy’s bluff. Unless this is an anterior sprain of his UCL, DeGrom needs Tommy John. This is why he hasn’t been back yet. Like I’ve been saying from the beginning flexor injuries usually point to UCL injuries.
— Jesse Morse, MD (@DrJesseMorse) September 7, 2021
In any case, there may not be enough time to stretch out as a starter in time to make a start before the regular season calendar expires.
Again, deGrom will not be cleared to begin mound work until at least mid-September, which is essentially a week from now.
It Makes Little Sense To Rush deGrom Back
He would have to throw bullpens, face live hitters, and see regular game action, not to mention stretching out to four or five innings.
The evidence, in fact, says that deGrom has no time to come back as a starter, and if the Mets truly want him out there throwing important innings in September, he would have to do it as a reliever.
Would the Mets want to change deGrom’s (and his elbow) routine and modify his role in the middle of the season, with not too many days to prepare for it?
It just doesn’t make sense.
if the Mets do anything but shut DeGrom down until 2022 they should just be deleted from baseball immediately https://t.co/sn1NGh1Cah
— Ryan Zimmerman’s Bat (@ryzimmsbat11) September 8, 2021
That, in addition to the fact it may be unfair to expect deGrom to dominate right out of the gate after an elbow injury.
All things considered, with a significant risk of aggravating an elbow injury, with the pitcher obviously still finding his footing after a prolonged absence, and with little time, the smartest thing to do, for the Mets and deGrom, would be to call it a season and start over in 2022, at least for the pitcher.
The Mets will continue to fight their way into the playoffs with or without deGrom, who has a 1.08 ERA and a 0.55 WHIP in 92 frames, but the likelihood of the ace being a significant contributor is very low.