First things first–The Jacob deGrom status–he received an MRI and it came back clean so the Mets are putting him on a day to day status. It is amazing that he has encountered 3 separate issues–right shoulder pain, a flexor issue, and lat discomfort but the 3 issues are not related in anyway according to the team’s medical analysis.
What this means is they will see how he feels by the the time his next start would be scheduled and that would be Monday when the Mets return from their 4 game series in DC and play a twin bill here at Citi against the Atlanta Braves. In the meantime, the Mets and Nats will play 4 games this weekend with neither Jacob deGrom or the injured Max Scherzer pitching which is pretty unbelievable when you stop and think about that.
As for the most recent Met contest, the Cubs salvaged the final game of the 4 game series as Jave Baez smacked a first inning 2 run homer and from that point on, Marcus Stroman allowed only 2 hits hurling 7 innings but on this night he was outdueled by Kyle Hendricks who threw 7 shutout innings to get the win.
We talked about what a test this week would be for the Mets facing the Padres and Cubs on this homestand and quite frankly they proved they are in the elite of the sport taking 5 of 7 games in the stretch. They head to the road for 4 in Dc versus the Nats and then 4 at home vs the Braves and Phils with a doubleheader scheduled in each of the next 3 series that they play.
So the deGrom news could not come at a worse time but I actually feel the Mets MUST look at this in a long term fashion and I would sit deGrom through the All Star Break and get his body feeling 100% right. They have so many games coming in the division–their next 15 to be exact–and the Met starting rotation depth will be tested but they must resist pushing deGrom to start because first of all they have a nice cushion in the NL East standings and secondly, this team has championship aspirations and they must keep that journey in focus.
Injured players are returning with Jeff McNeil likely rejoining the team in a few days and Michael Conforto should follow in the next week or so. And because of that, the offense must carry the ball in the light of deGrom’s absence. This team has proven time and time again they have a “survive and advance” mentality and they MUST give the game’s best pitcher a couple of weeks to get well and re-charge his battery.
There is too much at stake to bring him back too soon. They have a 9 game lead in the loss column over the Braves & Nats and a 7 game lead in the loss column over the Phillies. That means in the upcoming head to head those teams need to dominate those sets winning 3 out of every 4 games. That means splitting those 4 game sets is not awful for this team and should they actually win a series or two they could put a nail in the coffin of those NL East opponents.
The Mets are in this position in the standings because they have excelled at home and also in the division and even if they go say 8-7 in these 15 games, they would hold the fort in this division and chopped head to head games off the schedule for the teams way in the Mets rear view mirror. That is the advantage a mid-season lead in the division gives you and as we hit Fourth of July in a couple of weeks we will know how the Mets stand at another season benchmark. And then Sandy Alderson can decide what he needs by month’s end as the trading deadline approaches.
If this NL East race were a poker hand, the Mets are playing in it with far more money at that place in the table and some aces in their hands. They still need to play the game smartly and part of that is resting the right arm of Jacob deGrom till after the All Star break, And by that point, who knows Carlos Carrasco could be returning. And we have seen in the case of Seth Lugo how much a fresh arm can help this team.
The important thing is no panic in the minds of this team and Luis Rojas makes sure of that every single day. That is why despite the uncertainty of Jacob deGrom, the Mets hold the cards to win this poker game. The next 15 games will illustrate how well they are using their current NL East penthouse positioning to get themselves through those 15 games.