NEW YORK -- For more than a week, Jacob deGrom played catch and threw off mounds in Atlanta, Washington and New York, without specific expectations as to when he might return. That changed Friday, when the Mets announced that deGrom, who has not pitched since Sept. 1 due to right forearm inflammation, will return to the rotation Sunday against the Twins.
deGrom threw a bullpen session Friday at Citi Field in advance of Sunday's start. The Mets plan to limit him to approximately 75 pitches.
"Our expectations right now are to kind of build him back up a little bit," manager Terry Collins said. "He will dictate a lot by how he feels. But we're certainly hoping he's going to get basically three starts. We're hoping we can get him back up to where if we get in the postseason, he's a viable option for us."
The Mets' most consistent pitcher before arm and mechanical troubles began interfering in late August, deGrom held a 7-5 record and a 2.30 ERA on the morning of Aug. 18. He subsequently posted a 9.82 ERA over his next three starts, underwent an MRI and received a diagnosis of forearm inflammation. deGrom rested for a full week before picking up a baseball for the first time last Friday.
As this was happening, Rafael Montero's rotation struggles created the need for a starting pitcher on Sunday. The Mets debated bringing their other starters back on regular rest, until Noah Syndergaard told them he would prefer to have an extra day. The Mets also debated piggybacking deGrom and Steven Matz, who is recovering from a left shoulder impingement, but Matz, who is scheduled to throw a full bullpen session Saturday, was not progressing quickly enough to assume that assignment.
So the Mets instead scheduled deGrom, who could provide a significant lift as they continue to pursue a National League Wild Card berth.
"We think he's going to be fine, but we don't have a crystal ball to know what's going to happen here after he throws Sunday," Collins said. "Obviously the effort level is going to be pretty intense with him, and we'll just see how he bounces back from it. We're just glad to have him back."
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.