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Jacob deGrom’s return against Nationals finally gives Mets ‘dream’ rotation

WASHINGTON — Starling Marte is certain he speaks for his teammates in assessing what the return of their ace pitcher means for the club.

After 391 days, Jacob deGrom will walk to the mound for the Mets, bringing with him Tuesday a sense of security that is maybe unmatched within the game.

“I have been waiting for him and now he’s here and I know he will go to fight and we’re very happy,” Marte said Monday.

Following months of throwing sessions and rehab appearances, deGrom’s success will be measured by results more so than pitch counts and velocity. But deGrom’s health still remains the top priority for a team with visions of playing into November.

DeGrom was last seen on a major league mound on July 7, 2021, when he pitched seven innings against the Brewers at Citi Field in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The right-hander — who owned a 1.08 ERA in 15 starts and was on track for a third Cy Young award in four years — never returned after the All-Star break due to forearm and elbow discomfort. In spring training this year, he appeared in two games before he was shut down from throwing with a stress reaction on his right scapula.


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Jacob deGrom last pitched for the Mets in the regular season in July of 2021.
AP

DeGrom spent the past month building up in the minor leagues and reached 67 pitches in his outing for Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday. The Mets are hopeful he can extend to 75-80 pitches.

“I have never seen him throw before in a regular season game,” Chris Bassitt said. “It’s massive for our team because he is the best pitcher in the world.”

Bassitt was asked what deGrom trait is most endearing.

“I would say how humble he is,” Bassitt said. “Out of all the things, everyone knows the pitching talent, but how humble he is as a person is the biggest attribute, where he doesn’t think, ‘I’m the best pitcher in the world,’ kind of thing. He’s kind of like me where he has a lot of nervous energy for his starts and he’s one of the first people to the field.”

DeGrom spoke of that anxiety over the weekend, saying he expected Tuesday’s start against the Nationals would feel like his major league debut. DeGrom last faced the Nationals in April 2021 at Citi Field, throwing a two-hit shutout against them with 15 strikeouts.

As an opponent Marte marveled at deGrom’s prowess, but now he will get to celebrate it.

“His motion is easy, but it’s like an explosion at home plate when the catcher has the ball,” Marte said. “You just say, ‘How does this guy throw the best pitch every pitch?’ Sometimes when he misses a spot and you miss it, you know you won’t see more pitches like that.”

Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer
Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Entering play, the Mets were second in the NL with a 3.54 ERA from their starting pitchers. Over the last 21 games, the starters had pitched to a 1.97 ERA. It’s a cast that has included Max Scherzer, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco and Bassitt, but deGrom’s inclusion will potentially take it to a new stratosphere.

“It’s a morale booster and it obviously makes us better on paper and it’s going to be great,” Mark Canha said.

Bassitt has been waiting to pitch with this full rotation intact since arriving to the Mets in March.

“It’s honestly stuff you kind of just dream about, having that rotation, so I know none of us are taking it for granted,” Bassitt said. “We have a long way to go and a lot of hard work to put into it to get where we want to go, but what we have on paper is very special.”


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