Jacob deGrom’s night couldn’t have started much better, but it ended in frustration.
After firing three perfect innings against the Cubs on Wednesday with eight strikeouts, the right-hander entered the dugout in obvious discomfort and headed for the tunnel with the trainer.
Sean Reid-Foley replaced deGrom on the mound for the fourth inning. DeGrom departed with right shoulder soreness, according to the Mets.
It was just the latest injury worry for deGrom, who was returning from right flexor tendinitis that he incurred during his previous start. The Mets ace also missed two starts in May because of right side tightness. But any time the shoulder is mentioned, concern becomes exponentially higher.
DeGrom, the game’s best pitcher, saw his historically low ERA drop to 0.54 with his three shutout innings. He also delivered an RBI single in his first at-bat, giving him six RBIs this season and only four runs allowed.
The only batter deGrom faced Wednesday who didn’t strike out was Anthony Rizzo, who flied to deep right field in the first inning. Otherwise, deDrom was untouchable, with his 100 mph fastball and nasty slider in control.
After his last start, deGrom underwent an MRI exam on his right elbow that was “clean,” according to manager Luis Rojas. The Mets ace had departed after only six innings against the Padres on Friday, despite having allowed only one hit over six shutout innings in which he threw 80 pitches.
The Mets have been careful with deGrom since he left his May 9 start against the Diamondbacks with right side tightness. DeGrom missed his next two starts and then was on a pitch count after returning. He maxed at 85 pitches in San Diego over seven shutout innings on June 5. DeGrom was given the option of pitching the eighth inning in that game but declined because of fatigue.
If deGrom needs an IL stint he would join Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco among Mets starting pitchers sidelined. Carrasco, who is rehabbing from a torn right hamstring, won’t pitch for the Mets before late July at the earliest, according to acting general manager Zack Scott. Team president Sandy Alderson recently placed Syndergaard’s timeline around Sept. 1. Syndergaard last month was shut down from throwing during a minor league rehab assignment as he attempts to return from Tommy John surgery.
The Mets are relying heavily on Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker to boost a rotation that began the night with a 2.72 ERA that ranked first in the major leagues.