MRI exam reveals no structural damage in Mets right-hander's arm
By Anthony DiComo
NEW YORK -- Twice on Friday, Mets manager Terry Collins grabbed his cell phone, punched in the numbers for the Mets' trainer who accompanied Jacob deGrom to the hospital, then waited. He fretted. He fussed. This isn't typical behavior for Collins, who tends to let the news come to him.
"That's about as pins-and-needles as I can get," Collins said after the Mets lost a 4-1 game to the Nationals despite a strong effort from Noah Syndergaard, one of their two remaining healthy starters. "I needed to know because I didn't like the sound of it last night. I didn't like what I heard. We're very lucky that it's nothing more than what it is."
What it is for deGrom is a bout of forearm inflammation, which is causing discomfort in his right elbow. The Mets' most successful pitcher the last three seasons, deGrom will skip his next start in the height of a pennant race, hoping one turn through the rotation will be all he needs to become whole again.
"Honestly, I'm not really that concerned about it," deGrom said. "I feel like I could throw now. I think it's just making sure it's nothing."
An MRI taken Friday revealed no structural damage in deGrom's arm -- no strained or snapped ligaments or tendons. But that does not necessarily ease the Mets' minds regarding a pitcher mired in the worst three-start slump of his career.
The past several weeks have been difficult for deGrom, who as recently as Aug. 17 was 7-5 with a 2.29 ERA -- one of the five lowest marks in Major League Baseball. But deGrom gave up 13 runs on 25 hits over his subsequent two outings, prompting the Mets to push back his ensuing start three days as they worked on a mechanical fix. It didn't work; deGrom allowed another three runs, six hits and four walks in five innings Thursday against the Marlins.
More ominously, he motioned to trainer Ray Ramirez to follow him as he left the field, prompting a barrage of questions after the game. But deGrom insisted publicly that he was fine, doubling down on that assertion even after his examination.
"I plan on being back out there before too long," deGrom said. "It's nothing serious. I just mentioned, 'Hey, my forearm's a little stiff.' I told [the media] after last night that I thought I was fine. And I think I am. I think getting it looked at and seeing that everything in there is structurally fine is more peace of mind that I am fine."
Overall, deGrom is 7-8 with a 3.04 ERA. His absence leaves the Mets with just two healthy starters remaining from their Opening Day rotation: Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are both out for the season, while Steven Matz is currently sidelined due to a left shoulder impingement. Matz is scheduled to begin throwing off flat ground on Monday.
Originally, deGrom was scheduled to pitch the Mets' series finale in Cincinnati. When asked about the start earlier Friday, Collins declined comment. Rafael Montero, Gabriel Ynoa and Sean Gilmartin are the obvious candidates to take deGrom's place. The last time the Mets needed a spot start, they turned to Montero, who delivered five scoreless innings despite walking six batters.
More than anything, the Mets simply need continued excellence from Syndergaard and Colon. Both have done their parts of late; Colon went 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA in August, while Syndergaard delivered seven strong innings Friday despite taking the loss.
"It's just really unfortunate to hear about," Syndergaard said of deGrom. "He's an awesome competitor and an even better friend of mine, so it's really unfortunate to hear the news about him. I've just got to go out there and keep things simple and … not make it too much of a burden."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.