Mets maintaining hope that Jacob deGrom can return to pitch in 2021

Jacob deGrom Mets
Mets ace Jacob deGrom.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jacob deGrom’s elbow inflammation this summer has resembled something out of a Hardy Boys novel in that the New York Mets still can’t figure out what exactly is causing the mysterious shelving of the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Yet the team is still holding out some hope that the 33-year-old right-hander can return to the hill at some point this season, though it will be in the final games given the current trajectory of his recovery.

On Monday, after a routine check-up with Dr. David Altchek, the Mets relayed the messaged that deGrom’s inflammation in the elbow is “improving,” but his timetable isn’t necessarily changing.

“He is still in that two-week period,” Mets acting general manager Zack Scott said. “Usually then, we re-image and take it from there. Assuming it continues to look better, we’ll start building him back up.”

The Mets’ ace and one of the very best pitchers in baseball hasn’t started a game since July 7. He was placed on the injured list following the All-Star break because of right forearm tightness, but the discomfort traveled up to the elbow where swelling began during the rehabbing process.

Including the forearm and elbow issues, deGrom has suffered six different injuries this season alone — derailing a 2021 campaign that was on pace to become one of the greatest performances by a starting pitcher in the live-ball era.

Before his trip to the IL last month, deGrom led Major League Baseball with a 1.08 ERA, 146 strikeouts in 92 innings of work, a 0.554 WHIP, and 14.3 strikeouts-per-nine-innings mark. His time on the shelf, though, has seen the four-time All-Star fail to qualify for any pitching awards this season because he won’t accrue enough innings pitched.

“I’m frustrated. I don’t know what else to say,” deGrom said last month. “I guess it’s good news when things structurally look good but then you go out and try to throw a baseball and your form doesn’t feel good. Frustration is very high.”