Even if healthy, Mets need extra caution with Jacob deGrom

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 03: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets heads back to the mound in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on April 3, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 03: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets heads back to the mound in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on April 3, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The last 72 hours have been filled with both tension and angst as both the New York Mets and us fans are anxiously awaiting news of what might be the fate of star pitcher Jacob deGrom.

Jacob deGrom just signed a huge extension with the Mets for a minimum of 5 years $104 million guaranteed with a possible 6th year club option that could bring the total value to $136.5 million a month ago.

This past Thursday, deGrom was diagnosed with a case of strep throat for which he had spent this previous week taking antibiotics for. Many feel this was the main reason he had struggled in his previous two outings . Later on in the day, he began throwing off the mound in hopes of trying to get back into his off day throwing routine only to complain of pain in his throwing elbow.

This was initially reported by Steve Gelbs of SNY via Twitter Friday afternoon. Mets fans at this point are all holding their breaths and getting ready to brace for the worst.

If the Mets are to be a serious contender for either the wild card or the NL east division in 2019, having deGrom healthy and effective for the majority of the year will be vital. We all know this.

Any signs of him struggling due to physical ailments or missing time on the IL will seriously reduce this team’s chances of being competitive for the foreseeable future, given how close most of the teams in our division are.

But Friday turned out to bring a bit of positive hope for us fans. Many media outlets reported that deGrom was out throwing on flat ground from 120 feet and playing catch for a few hours while experiencing considerably less soreness. Even as early as this Monday morning, before the Mets begin their three game home series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets ace was seen throwing a bullpen session and reportedly seems pain free.

Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported today that deGrom had a pain free bullpen throwing session earlier in the morning and that the worst of this situation may be over.

Nonetheless, I think it was a smart move for the Mets to put deGrom on the 10-day IL as they did this Friday evening. It turns out he is still scheduled to have an MRI on his throwing elbow just to make sure that nothing is damaged in there on April 22,2019.

It is worthy to note that deGrom did mention that he had not thrown at all since his last start in Atlanta back on April 14, 2019 because of his strep throat illness. There is a real possibility that the “barking” he was experiencing in his elbow on Thursday was because he took more time off than usual between bullpen throwing sessions.

A combination of throwing less and getting over the effects of antibiotics and the body soreness he felt because of his strep throat illness could have lead to the temporary negative reaction in his throwing elbow.

Even if deGrom turns out to be perfectly healthy and ends up making his 30 plus regular season starts for this Mets franchise, we as fans still have to wonder if we really are as “deep” a roster as general manager Brodie van Wagenen says we are.

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After all, after our starting five pitchers, in which our #5 pitcher is still considered to be below average as compared to most other  #5 starters, we really do not have much quality depth to fall back on should we experience a major injury or two to our rotation.

This latest news about the reigning National League Cy Young award winner just further brings us closer to this reality that maybe we aren’t as prepared to deal with adversity as our GM says we are. I mean, can we really rely on a combination of Chris Flexen, Drew Gagnon, Corey Oswalt and Jason Vargas to keep our team competitive with Jacob deGrom out for an extended period?

More than likely this will be a house of cards on it’s way to crumbling, despite the Mets offense being as potent as they have been to start 2019.

With Dallas Keuchel still out on the open market and a few of competent veterans in James Shields and Yovani Gallardo still up for grabs, the Mets would be foolish not to kick the tires on some of these pitchers just to keep their ship sailing stable. The NL east is not getting any easier and any win we can pull out against better competition will be magnified 5x as much considering how tough our division is.

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Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets front office would be wise to use this potential scare to address what we already know is a major Achilles heel of our ball club. But for now no one knows what the future holds. All we as fans can do is hold our breaths and cross our fingers, as we wait to see if Thursday’s “barking” was just a false alarm or a premonition for much worse things to come.