Jacob deGrom injury: Mets ace to undergo MRI on tight shoulder, Opening Day start in question

New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was scratched from Friday’s spring start and will instead go for an MRI on his tight right shoulder. Manager Buck Showalter revealed the injury Thursday night and said de Grom may not start Friday as scheduled. The scratch was made official Friday morning, putting deGrom’s Opening Day start is in question.

“We are going to see how he is (Friday) morning before we scratch him,” Showalter told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, on Thursday. “But he has to be pretty convincing to pitch him tomorrow. I’ll be surprised if he pitches tomorrow — rain or no rain.”

deGrom last pitched five days ago on March 27, when he struck out five and cruised through three innings, and looked very much like himself. He reported the tightness in the back of his shoulder after long-coughing Thursday afternoon. It’s not uncommon for pitchers to come down with a “dead arm” a few weeks into camp, though the short spring leaves in the wiggle room this year.

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Last season a series of injuries, including back and forearm issues, limited deGrom to only 15 starts. He did not pitch after July 7. When he reported to camp, deGrom said his elbow ligament is “perfectly fine,” and that he had no other problems physically. Other than a short bout with rotator cuff tendinitis in 2014, deGrom has never had shoulder problems in his career.

The Mets are scheduled to open the season next Thursday in Washington. Should deGrom miss Opening Day, the rest of the rotation would presumably move up a day and Max Scherzer would start the season opener. How much the Mets will get from deGrom and Scherzer is a big question this year. deGrom was hurt last year and Scherzer will pitch this season at age 37.

Here is New York’s current rotation depth chart. There are some age and injury concerns here:

  1. RHP Jacob deGrom (dealing with shoulder tightness in spring training)
  2. RHP Max Scherzer (37 years old)
  3. RHP Chris Bassitt
  4. RHP Taijuan Walker (6.79 ERA in the second half last year)
  5. RHP Carlos Carrasco (6.04 ERA in 12 starts around injuries)
  6. RHP Tylor Megill
  7. LHP David Peterson

Getting, say, 40 starts from deGrom and Scherzer rather than 60 starts from deGrom and Scherzer could very well be the difference in the NL East race this year. It might be enough to be the difference in the postseason race all together. Bottom line, deGrom is a difference-making pitcher, and losing him for any stretch of time would be devastating.

Around the injuries de Grom, 34 in June, was fantastic in 2021. He pitched to a 1.08 ERA and struck out 146 in 92 innings, and held opposing batters to a .129/.160/.242 line. The two-time Cy Young winner has said he plans to opt out of the final year and $30.5 million remaining on his contract after the season.

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