The New York Mets’ chances to win the World Series took a major turn for the worse with Tuesday’s news. The Mets entered the day a game up on both St. Louis and San Francisco in the Wild Card standings. However, a loss to the Atlanta Braves put the Mets’ lead at risk. Perhaps even worse news came earlier in the day when Jacob deGrom’s season was officially called to an end. Accordingly, his pitching services will not be available to the Mets at any point from here on out, whether regular season or post-season.
Anthony DiComo of MLB.com released a quick statement on the matter on Tuesday afternoon:
“Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom will undergo surgery later this week, as expected, to repair ulnar nerve damage in his right arm. He will miss the rest of the season.”
For those wondering what an ulnar nerve injury is about exactly, Abby Sims wrote an article on the topic a couple of years ago. I don’t mean to cue the scary music when I state that the article involved Brian Wilson, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The news of deGrom’s surgery was not unexpected for those that followed the developments over the last few days. However, that deGrom’s season is over is a sharp contrast to the original optimism that the pitcher seemed to have. When it was announced that deGrom would miss an early-September start due to forearm problems he stated:
“I plan on being back out there before too long. Like I said, it’s nothing serious.”
Looking back on those comments it’s clear that deGrom and perhaps the Mets did not at first understand the severity of the injury. But as he missed more and more time the increased threat of the forearm damage became clearer. DeGrom last appeared in a game almost three weeks ago, a 5-inning outing against the Miami Marlins where he was the losing pitcher.
The lack of clarity regarding the deGrom injury can be seen with how the headlines seemed ever-changing over the last few weeks. Following the “nothing serious” comment, things seemed to get serious and then they seemed to get not-so-serious, and now they are back to very serious again.
September 4th at NyPost.com: “Jacob deGrom arm issues may be worse than Mets are letting on” (Zach Braziller).
September 9th at CBSSports.com: “Some good news on the Mets’ injury front as Jacob deGrom ready to start throwing” (Matt Snyder).
September 12th at Nj.com: “Jacob deGrom nearing return, could start off in Mets bullpen” (Maria Guardado)
September 20th at ESPN.com: “Doctors to move deGrom’s ulnar nerve to curb pain; his season is over” (Adam Rubin).
If the flip-flopping injury-status pattern continues then next we can expect an announcement of deGrom starting this weekend.
On a more serious note, if you look at deGrom’s season, it’s possible that something was bothering him as early as August, a month where he was not his normal self. He went just 1-2 in the month with a 4.45 ERA. In particular, his August 18th start, where he gave up 8 runs and 13 hits in five innings against the Giants, is where things seem to turn south. If you put faith in stats, then they suggest a possible mid-August injury that he maybe played through for a bit.
Looking forward Jay Jaffe, writing for Sports Illustrated, pointed out that “any rotation the Mets cobble together for the postseason will be far less imposing than the one that carried them to last year’s World Series” (September 17th). But if the team crumbles following the news of losing one of their strongest players, then they could be in trouble just to make the Wild Card game. The St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants were both just one game back of the Mets for the No. 1 Wild Card spot entering Tuesday and, at the time of writing, both were leading their Tuesday-night games. Furthermore, Miami and Pittsburgh remain in the Wild Card picture although both of those teams need to start winning games immediately to stay close.