The Aces: Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer
Not much needs to be added to what is already common knowledge: the Mets now have arguably the best one-two punch of any rotation in baseball. Putting aside all the accolades, however, there are real questions standing in the way of deGrom and Scherzer even being counted on twice every five days next year, let alone greatness.
For deGrom, it is the UCL sprain in his right arm, which prevented him from pitching past July 7 and thwarted a potentially historic 2021 campaign. Mets’ president Sandy Alderson made a point in September to stress that deGrom’s sprain “resolved itself,” but when considering his age (turning 34 in June), his arm history (Tommy John surgery early in his minor league career), and the fact he throws harder than anyone in baseball (99 MPH average fastball velocity, per Baseball Savant), it’s impossible not to think about whether a breaking point is imminent.
For Scherzer, many of the same concerns apply. Statistically, 2021 was one of his finest, with a career-best 2.46 ERA in 179 1/3 innings overall and a 1.98 ERA in 11 starts upon joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in July. Down the stretch, however, the 37-year-old seemed to wear down – first, giving up five earned runs in each of his last two regular season starts, and then being unable to finish the NLCS for the Dodgers after four postseason outings in a twelve-day span.
Bottom Line: The risks cannot be ignored, but the potential reward for the Mets is as high as it could ever be with deGrom and Scherzer anchoring the rotation.