The Mets announced that they have shut down Jacob deGrom, officially putting an end to his 2021 season. Luis Rojas added that the team’s ace is fine to pitch, and could have returned if the club was playing for something, but with the Mets being eliminated over the weekend, it didn’t make much sense. For a while this year, it looked like he would not only run away with the Cy Young Award, but would also garner serious MVP considerations in the National League. Unfortunately, injuries derailed that path.
deGrom began his 2021 campaign on a historic pace. The right-hander started off with 12 consecutive starts in which he allowed one or zero earned runs, which included a 31-inning scoreless record streak. His fastball regularly touched 101 mph, and he posted a 5.0 bWAR in just 15 starts. He missed a couple of starts in May with nagging injuries, but he was typically able to return relatively quickly. In his 15 appearances, he posted a remarkable 1.08 ERA, a 1.23 FIP, and a 0.55 WHIP, with 146 strikeouts in 92.0 innings. At the time, he led the league in just about every single pitching category.
The club entertained the idea of starting him on short rest right before the All Star break, but those plans never materialized. It was then that the real problems began, as deGrom was sidelined with forearm tightness. He landed on the IL and kept getting shut down every few weeks, and it became clear in August that a return was not likely despite their insistence that MRI results showed no structural damage. The club eventually revealed that he had suffered an sprained UCL, but it had healed on its own.
The Mets tried to keep the door open for deGrom to pitch again, but things never progressed to the point where you could reasonably expect him to return. He had begun ramping up again in September, and while he didn’t suffer any setbacks, the club decided against a return.
deGrom’s health will be one of they key question marks heading into 2022. The team ace will be 33 on Opening Day, and is coming off a year in which he pitched fewer than 100 innings. The club’s chances on making the playoffs hinges entirely on deGrom’s right arm, which became clear this year when the Mets slid well out of first place once the right-hander went down. While deGrom will be penciled in to start the team’s first game next year, they will need to think carefully about some back-up options in their rotation, should deGrom suffer any more injuries related to his right arm.