With a week’s worth of rest, Jacob deGrom is back on the mound for the Mets Thursday night against the Colorado Rockies after being pushed back from an originally-scheduled Tuesday outing in the Bronx against the Yankees — a decision that came from consulting with the two-time Cy Young Award winner following his throwing sessions after a season-high 95 pitch outing on Aug. 18 in Atlanta against the Braves.
The Mets continue to proceed with an abundance of caution when it comes to their ace, which is an obvious and understandable route to take considering the stress reaction in his right scapula was the sixth-different injury issue he dealt with since the start of the 2021 season.
So while not confirming that an occasional extra day of rest might be in the cards for deGrom, manager Buck Showalter hinted that the 34-year-old’s schedule will be fluid for the final six weeks of the 2022 regulars season.
“I’ve said it a lot of times, I know you roll your eyes, if you want to make the baseball gods laugh then tell them about your plans,” Showalter said on Thursday prior to New York’s series opener against the Rockies. “I always remind myself that it always changes; a rainout, there’s something you might want to get one extra day. We have it thought out but it’s not something we’re broadcasting or that we’re necessarily telling him.
“They know well in advance when they’re getting an extra day. Sometimes it affects how they pitch that game knowing there’s another day there coming up. It means a lot for guys this time of year to get an extra day, physically. Then you run into the problem of too many days. So it’s a constant juggling act.”
In four starts this season, deGrom has looked like the usual superstar that he is as one of the best pitchers in baseball, posting a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings pitched while slowly easing into a pseudo-normal workload that flirts with that 100-pitch benchmark. In the meantime, it appears that an eye is being kept out for the postseason, as a fresh duo of deGrom and Max Scherzer — who missed two months with an oblique injury earlier this season — could be the most imposing 1-2 punch of October.
Scherzer has thrown just 115.2 innings this season compared to the 140 innings he pitched last season with the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers by Aug. 26.
“You have to look at first what they’re out with. So those things have resolved so far but they’re capable of cropping back up,” Showalter said. “But from an inning-count standpoint, it’s funny because I was looking at this yesterday and looked again where Max had been last year, the year before, what have you, and where he is now. You do look at it…
“It’s something you look at and take under advisement in the total evaluation and you realize that it always doesn’t follow that perfectly. I wish it was that easy but it’s human beings with a heartbeat and things change. The body and the things it’s subjected to responds differently when you get older.”
Given Showalter’s journey as a manager over the past three decades in Major League Baseball, the superstition is likely warranted. Yet he knows that there is still yet another level for his top two starters to hit if the Mets want to make a legitimate run toward a pennant.
“We’ve done a lot of things in April, May, June, July, and August to try and get to this point where we can go,” he said. “You do a lot of things with your bullpen, a lot of things with your starters so you can have them in a position to push when you need to. I’m hoping we can start getting some things back that we’ve been cautious about over the season.”