Mets’ Jacob deGrom throws 60 pitches in simulated game

Mets’ Jacob deGrom throws 60 pitches in simulated game

The slight breeze you felt was a big exhale from Mets personnel in Florida.

These things can change quickly, of course, and the Mets will want to see how he does on Friday, but Jacob deGrom appears to be OK.

DeGrom, whose rehab assignment hit its first known speed bump this week, threw 60 pitches in a simulated game in Port St. Lucie on Thursday and reported feeling good, the Mets said. That was reported by The Post’s Mike Puma the club was encouraged by how upbeat the superstar sounded after the outing.

In his previous rehab start, deGrom had thrown 42 pitches through four innings, and manager Buck Showalter has said they want him stretched out to at least five innings before he makes his debut in 2022. Maybe 60 pitches qualifies.

Jacob deGrom played with the Syracuse Mets on July 14, 2022.
Jacob deGrom played with the Syracuse Mets on July 14, 2022.
Danny Tripodi

The Sim game was his fourth rehab “start” and his first and only one away from the public eye during a break in the minor league schedule and after a health scare delayed the outing by two days.

DeGrom’s rehab had been going smoothly until Sunday, when the Mets said he experienced “mild muscle soreness around the shoulder.” DeGrom’s simulated game, which was scheduled for Tuesday, was instead pushed back to Thursday. The club said deGrom played catch Monday and Tuesday without incident.

The slight setback put him out of the discussion for the upcoming series at Citi Field against the Padres. It’s possible he’ll make his season debut Tuesday or Wednesday against the Yankees, though the Mets may be especially cautious after the soreness in his shoulder.

DeGrom hasn’t set foot on a major league mound in over a year. Forearm and elbow injuries ended his 2021 campaign in early July — he’d been a Cy Young favorite before the missed season and finished with a 1.08 ERA — and he reported to camp this year saying he felt fine.

The righty lasted five Grapefruit League innings before he felt discomfort behind his right shoulder and an MRI found a stress reaction in his right scapula that kept him from throwing for four weeks.

For some, the diagnosis included some comfort: It wasn’t an aggravation of a previous injury or a soft-tissue setback that might require surgery. The feeling was that once it healed, he would be OK.

“The good news is, there’s nothing structurally wrong here, as far as the rotator cuff, as far as anything like that,” GM Billy Eppler said at the time. “But we’re dealing with a bone problem, and when you deal with bones, they calcify. The healing properties will take care of themselves, so I think that’s a positive we walk away with.”

DeGrom started pitching again in May, was back on the mound in June and began his rehab assignment early this month. He had been his usual, dominant self in three rehab starts with Single-A St. Lucie and Triple-A Syracuse, when his fastball regularly registered 100 mph. In 8 ²/₃ innings, he did not allow an earned run and struck out 15 with one walk. There were no radar readings or approximate results provided by the Mets after Thursday’s outing.

Jacob deGrom throws a pitch in a simulated game with the Syracuse Mets on July 14, 2022.
Jacob deGrom throws a pitch in a simulated game with the Syracuse Mets on July 14, 2022.
Danny Tripodi

After his second rehab start, deGrom said he hopes to “be in the big leagues before too long.”

“It’s step by step, but I’ve been following the process, how it was laid out and just trying not to do too much,” deGrom told reporters in Florida on July 8. “Everything feels good.”

Despite deGrom’s struggles and Max Scherzer being sidelined by an oblique strain that kept him to 11 first-half starts, the Mets’ rotation has posted a 3.71 ERA, eighth-best in baseball heading into the break. Taijuan Walker has pitched like a third ace, David Peterson has been excellent and Carlos Carrasco has bounced back from a rough 2021 season.

Scherzer is back, but turns 38 next week. Walker pounced in the second half last season. Peterson is closing in on his professional innings total from last year, and Carrasco has nearly doubled his own from last season. Chris Bassitt has been up and down. There are potential problems surrounding the Mets rotation, which has made a deGrom return all the more important.

Although scares have surfaced, this return now looks closer than ever.

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