MIAMI — It’s official. Jacob deGrom is going to pitch in a major league game.
“He’s going to pitch Tuesday,” Buck Showalter set in stone. “His work day went well. He had a light side. He’s finishing up his work, but the plan is for him to pitch Tuesday in Washington.”
“I’m definitely excited,” deGrom said in the bowels of loanDepot Park on Sunday afternoon. “It’s been a long time. This has been a pretty slow process of coming back. The nerves haven’t really set in yet, but I’m sure Tuesday I’ll be pretty nervous. It’ll feel like my debut.”
When pressed about his velocity, and whether we’ll see triple digits on the radar gun, deGrom said we’ll have to wait and see. Neither Showalter nor deGrom would give a pitch count or any other details as far as usage.
“Jeremy [Hefner] and I will sit down when we get all the information,” Showalter said. “What’d he throw last time, 67 pitches? We’ll see. I probably won’t be talking about it publicly though.”
This news is an obvious ray of light for the Mets, who now have the classic case of trade deadline upgrade coming from within. The front office could still, and likely will, add some guys from other organizations too, but getting the best pitcher in the world back is about as good of an acquisition as there can be.
Of course, there is always the question of health. The deGrom injury was a stress reaction in his right scapula, which he said was caused by the weirdness of the lockout and trying to get back into game mode during the abbreviated spring training.
“Maybe I didn’t have enough time to build up,” said deGrom, who now feels like he’s in a “good position to stay healthy.”
The pitcher told reporters that he watched a ton of video from his 2018 and 2019 Cy Young seasons, which is when he feels he was at his best mechanically, and talked through his rehab process with former MLB pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who had a similar injury. Still, you best believe the Mets will treat this first start with an abundance of caution.
“After [the injury] it didn’t take long to feel good,” deGrom shared. “That’s where it was kind of an interesting thing. It was constant contact with these guys and trying to stick with the plan, not move too fast. We played it safe by taking extra days and making sure everything was where we wanted it.”
Showalter, who only got to see deGrom throw a few times at spring training, was asked if he has any genuine curiosity about what the stud right-hander will look like in his first start since July 7, 2021.
“It’s not a curiosity. I just hope he gives us a good, healthy outing and gives us a chance to win. I think we all know what he’s capable of.”
“I feel really good,” deGrom assured. “Throughout the rehab process, I felt good. I had a couple little minor things where we took an extra day, but that was just making sure everything was where it needed to be. I’m confident. Everything is healed.”
The 34-year-old said he plans to go out and “do his normal thing” on Tuesday, which gives him his first opportunity to contribute to the most exciting Mets’ season in seven years. That 2015 ride came in deGrom’s second year in the big leagues, and he’s the only remaining player from that National League champion squad. The team he’s joining now even looks a lot different than the one he last suited up with. The Mets are winning at a blistering pace, which understandably excites him, and a lot of that is due to the new faces that he hasn’t had a chance to play with yet.
“I’m ready,” deGrom said. “This team is exciting, and I’m ready to help these guys win. In 2015, when we made it to the World Series and fell a little short, that was some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball. Hopefully we can get back there and actually win the whole thing this year.”
There’s also the universal designated hitter now, which will rob deGrom of any more chances to match his .364 batting average from last season. Showalter was asked if deGrom is upset about not getting to hit anymore.
“He hasn’t expressed that. But that’s another good pinch running option I have. Could you imagine? If I ran him out there to pinch run? Ain’t going to happen.”
GETTING MARTE OFF THE TURF
Starling Marte got the day off on Sunday, with newcomer Tyler Naquin going 1-for-5 with an RBI triple while taking his spot in right field. It was just a standard day of rest for Marte, with Showalter explaining that the playing surface in Miami had something to do with it.
”We’re playing on turf for three days here,” Showalter said. “Keeping in mind the [groin] injury he had, like a lot of our guys, it’s little things that you don’t want to turn into something else. He’s had a lot of volume, running, and it’s his own fault. Triples, running around the field. He’s fine. He’ll be back in the lineup [on Monday].”
Once he got out of manager, injury-update speak, Showalter found his element.
”The turf today is so much better. Let’s be frank. They’ve done a great job with it. It was too hard for a long time and then it was too soft. Now, they’ve gotten it to a happy medium where the ball doesn’t bounce up in the air. Remember those day games in Kansas City? If the ball hit the turf it was a double or triple. Some of those pinball machines we played in, it’s quite different now, and it’s not as taxing as it once was, but it’s still a factor.”
MAY AND MCCANN BACK SOON
According to Showalter, things are lining up for the Mets to get Trevor May back on Wednesday and James McCann on Thursday. May has not pitched in the majors since May 2 due to a stress reaction and subsequent inflammation in his arm. McCann’s last MLB game was July 9, when he suffered an oblique strain making a tag at home plate.
McCann went 1-for-5 with a two-run homer as the designated hitter for the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Sunday. He was their catcher on Thursday and Saturday. May has been with the Syracuse Mets at Triple-A, and after throwing an inning for them on Saturday, he cleared his final hurdle, which was pitching in consecutive games. May held the Omaha Storm Chasers scoreless in one inning on Sunday.
”Mac is doing well,” Showalter said of his catcher. “We’ll see how Trevor comes out of his back-to-back. That trifecta would be nice, Jake, May and Mac.”