Jacob deGrom’s last start had a little bit of everything — brilliance on the mound, production at the plate and an injury scare.
The Mets wouldn’t mind a repeat of Friday night minus the last aspect of that previous outing.
DeGrom, the dominating right-hander who has set an MLB record for the lowest ERA (0.56) through 10 starts, will be back on the mound Wednesday night against the Cubs, five days after his right flexor tendinitis scare.
“Still day-to-day approach, but as of now, he’s given the thumbs-up and he’s done everything he needs to be ready,” manager Luis Rojas said on Tuesday before the Mets hosted Chicago.
After coming out following six shutout innings against the Padres on Friday, deGrom insisted he would be fine and expected to take the ball the next turn through the rotation. He was confident there was nothing wrong other than some soreness, having already undergone Tommy John surgery and another elbow operation to repair a nerve earlier in his career.
An MRI exam the next day came back clean, and deGrom said he felt fine. He threw a bullpen session on Monday and reported he was good to go, ready to improve on his dominance. DeGrom’s 10-game stretch of allowing one run or fewer is the longest streak since Bob Gibson did that in 11 straight starts in 1968. DeGrom has driven in more runs (five) than earned runs he’s given up (four) and is batting an even .400. The Mets have won his last five starts and seven of the previous eight.
“Jake’s from another planet, honestly,” closer Edwin Diaz marveled after his last start. “He’s on a different level and he might be the best player in baseball.”
Still, deGrom’s health remains a question mark. He’s already been on the injured list once in 2021 with a soreness in his right side and back. Upon returning, the Mets limited his pitch count to 85 or under in his next four starts. At the age of 32, he’s throwing harder than he ever has in his career, his fastball averaging 99.2 mph.
“Every pitch for him, how easy his delivery is, his body, his extremities, we talk about how easy he throws the ball, but it’s still an effort,” Rojas said. “He creates a lot of torque and there’s a lot of energy he uses throughout the outing, going six, seven, eight innings. And he even went nine really early in the season, so we figured that some of the things can come out of that, some of the tightness, anything that’s come his way already is because of the force that he creates.
“We’re very aware, and that’s why sometimes I get asked about his pitch count and I tell you guys that we’re just trying to watch the game, see the ups and downs and the stress level and communicate as a group just to keep Jake [healthy] throughout the season. But the good thing right now is nothing major happened, even though he exited the last outing, and as of now we expect him to start.”