While the Mets made an improbable comeback to defeat the Minnesota Twins, 3-2, in 12 innings on Sunday night, the team’s starting rotation suffered a majored blow earlier in the day.
General manager Sandy Alderson told reporters that right-hander Jacob deGrom will miss the rest of the season with a pinched ulnar nerve in his right elbow. DeGrom was originally set to return on Sunday from forearm tightness that sidelined him since September 2 after three straight disastrous starts.
“Jake just had issues with the ulnar nerve in his right elbow, not unusual following Tommy John surgery,” Alderson said. “He threw BP [batting practice] yesterday, felt great, shagged in the outfield, threw the ball and had some pain. Unlikely to pitch tomorrow and the rest of season. We will see. It’s likely to require surgical repair, not significant procedure, as far as a risk going forward.”
BREAKING: Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is likely done for the season after being scratched from his start Sunday. pic.twitter.com/I66TJDOkls
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 17, 2016
DeGrom, 28, was shut down after three consecutive subpar performances from August 18 through September 1. In those three starts, deGrom threw 14-and-two-thirds innings while allowing 16 earned runs, 21 hits, and seven walks. He lost all three starts.
Despite those outings, deGrom’s overall line on the season (7-8, 3.04 ERA) was solid and leading a wounded Mets rotation. The 2014 National League Rookie of the Year threw a bullpen on Friday and all indications were that it went well. However, he felt discomfort while trying to lob a baseball into a bucket during batting practice.
“It’s started with numbness in pinky and ring finger, then later pain in the elbow,” deGrom said. “Doctor said ligament looked great. I told them the symptoms. Did tests for ligaments… They said it sounds like the nerve… Scar tissue can build up after Tommy John and pinch that nerve.”
One man who was looking forward to deGrom’s return was manager Terry Collins. Frequently relying on his bullpen and youngsters was nerve wracking and penciling deGrom’s name into the lineup was welcomed sight.
“I actually watched Jake’s bullpen yesterday and it was outstanding,” Collins said. “Fifteen minutes later he said ‘I can’t pitch.'”
Losing deGrom is a huge blow to a Mets team that’s already without Matt Harvey (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome), Steven Matz (elbow), and Zach Wheeler (strained flexor tendon). Noah Syndergaard has been pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow which will likely require offseason surgery. The rash of injuries has forced the Mets to rely on call-ups such as Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and Gabriel Ynoa.
The estimated recovery time for deGrom is three to six months, putting him well on schedule to be ready for Spring Training next season. In the interim, the Mets will be forced to rely on Syndergaard, the 43-year-old Bartolo Colon — who made the NL All-Star team and sports a 14-7 record with 3.14 ERA — and a fleet of unproven rookies to carry them into the postseason.
Meet The Matz
Steven Matz, who has been on the disabled list with a shoulder impingement affecting his rotator cuff will likely be back in New York this week, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports. The team believes that Matz has a chance to pitch next week.
The left-hander, who owns a 9-8 record with a 3.40 ERA in 22 starts, last pitched on August 14 versus the San Diego Padres. The Long Island, New York, native one-hit the Friars in seven-and-one-innings of work, throwing 105 pitches in the process.
First baseman Lucas Duda was activated off the disabled list on Saturday with the expectation of being a potent, left-handed bench option. However, the slugging first baseman is in the Mets’ lineup, batting seventh, versus Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 16, 2016
Duda, 30, has been sidelined since late May with a stress fracture in his lower back. He slashed.231/.297/.431 with seven home runs and 19 runs batted in through 39 games. The serious injury partnered with his subpar performance makes Duda a potential non-tender candidate this offseason.
James Loney, who saw most of the playing time at first base after Duda’s injury slashed.263/.309/.381 with seven HRs and 29 RBIs in 90 games.
Rubin also reported that Wilmer Flores, whose wrist has prevented him from swinging a bat for nine days, could not swing a bat on Sunday. He initially injured the wrist in a home-plate collision in Atlanta. He received a cortisone injection on Thursday.
Flores was hitting.267/.319/.469 with 16 HRs and 49 RBIs in 103 games before the injury.
[Featured Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images]