It’s hard to write off a team’s fortunes when one player goes down with an injury, but the loss of the Jacob deGrom would come pretty close for the New York Mets. deGrom left last night’s game after four innings, the result of a hyperextended right elbow that occurred while he was batting. Manager Mickey Callaway revealed that deGrom tried to pitch through the issue but developed biceps pain, leading him out of the game and off to get an MRI on his elbow. The results of that exam should arrive at some point today, but it is pretty clear that the loss of deGrom for a significant period of time would be a crusher.
deGrom, who is 3-0 with a ridiculous 1.87 ERA this season, has been one of two sure things in the Mets’ starting rotation. The other is Noah Syndergaard, who has been solid but hasn’t truly lived up to his high standards in the early going. The rest of the rotation has been a mess, combining to go 3-6 with a 5.93 ERA in 68.1 innings pitched, so it has been vital for the Mets to pick up wins when either deGrom or Syndergaard pitches. If deGrom is out for a lengthy period, the Mets’ chances of picking up wins significantly diminishes.
The Mets have played lousy baseball since their 11-1 start, going 6-10 over the past 16 games, and have been passed by the Atlanta Braves in the division. Syndergaard will still be good, and Jason Vargas should get better after shaking off the rust from a long layoff caused by a broken bone in his left hand. Zack Wheeler has been a decent pitcher, but beyond those three there are significant questions. Steven Matz has been a disaster for most of the season, failing to get deep into games and now dealing with a back issue. Matt Harvey, who got booted from the rotation and recently decided that driving to L.A. from San Diego on a work night was a good idea, is now the most likely candidate to fill deGrom’s spot should he miss time.
The schedule gets tough this month, so the Mets could easily let themselves fall into a tailspin if they aren’t careful. The offense hasn’t done much with Michael Conforto struggling, Amed Rosario offering little production, and the catching platoon of Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton becoming essentially automatic outs. Even if Syndergaard looks more like his old self, the Mets have at best a 50/50 shot of winning on the other four days with the way their current pitchers have performed. Unless a few key players actually step up and perform, the Mets’ season may go down the drain along with deGrom’s health.