Mets think they’ve found way to protect deGrom while he’s hitting
PHILADELPHIA — The Mets believe they have a foolproof way to protect their pitchers from future hyperextended elbows, and it isn’t by taking the bat out of their hands.
Jacob deGrom has been given the green light to come off the disabled list and start Sunday’s series finale against the Phillies. Manager Mickey Callaway said there won’t be any restrictions for deGrom — at least not on the mound — in his first start since May 2, when he initially suffered the hyperextended elbow.
“We’re still trying to figure out what we want to do at the plate with him,” Callaway said Saturday at Citizens Bank Park before the Mets and Phillies were postponed, though deGrom remained in line to pitch Sunday.
Callaway had said last week, before the Mets decided to take the cautious route and send deGrom to the 10-day disabled list retroactive to May 3, that the stud right-hander would not be allowed to swing the bat. It was that action — a swing-and-miss against the Braves — that cut his last start short and gave the Mets a brief scare before MRI exams showed no structural damage.
But the presence of a new brace to be worn on deGrom’s right elbow during at-bats could change that approach.
“We do have these braces that our pitchers are going to start wearing that keeps their arms from locking out, especially those guys that hit opposite-handed,” Callaway said, including the lefty-hitting deGrom in that opposite-handed group. “It won’t let it hyperextend.”
Though deGrom declined to comment on the brace, Callaway said he thought his pitching staff was on board with the idea.
“We’re going to try to get them all to wear them, so this doesn’t happen again,” Callaway said. “I think they would wear anything to protect them a little bit.”
It was less than a week ago that deGrom thought he would be starting on turn without any issue after suffering the injury, only to have Callaway announce he was bound for the disabled list a little more than 24 hours before he was set to take the mound Monday in Cincinnati.
DeGrom previously said he didn’t mind the swinging ban if it would keep him healthy on the mound.
“I haven’t been hitting the ball very well anyway,” he said with grin last Sunday. “No, but seriously, I’d much rather be out there pitching, so if I can’t swing, then that’s whatever. I’d much rather be able to go out there and compete and keep us in a ballgame.”
In 14 at-bats this season, deGrom has two hits and two sacrifice bunts. He is a career .190 hitter across five years in the big leagues.
After missing his previously scheduled start Monday, deGrom threw an up-and-down bullpen session on Tuesday and another on Friday, giving him three side sessions since his last start. Callaway said deGrom would not be on any kind of a pitch count Sunday.
In seven starts this season, deGrom is 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 54 strikeouts across 43 ¹/₃ innings.
P.J. Conlon made a spot start for deGrom in Cincinnati on Monday, lasting 3 2/3 innings and giving up three runs in his major-league debut. Conlon was sent back to Triple-A Las Vegas the next day as the Mets recalled Corey Oswalt.
The 24-year-old Oswalt is a starter by trade but has made his only big-league appearance out of the bullpen. He started in Triple-A last Saturday, but has not pitched since coming back up as the Mets may have been holding him out to make sure he was fresh if needed Sunday.
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