Jacob deGrom hoping 2017 is year all Mets starters stay healthy
Will 2017 finally produce a starting rotation with all five of the Mets’ heralded pitchers? Jacob deGrom, a big part of that group, is as intrigued as anyone else.
“We love to go out there and compete. We’re all very good friends,’’ deGrom said Tuesday from DeLand, Florida, where he has been throwing for several weeks after late-season surgery to move the ulnar nerve in his right elbow. “We’re all rooting for each other. We’re definitely excited. Hopefully this is the year that happens.’’
DeGrom, 28, had surgery last September after experiencing elbow pain and numbness in his fingers. He said he is healthy and expects a normal spring training routine after pitchers and catchers report Feb. 13.
“I’ve been throwing for five or six weeks now,’’ he said. “The plan is to be off the mound a couple of times before spring, then I think just a nice and easy introduction to a slope and then be ready to go when spring training is here.’’
Getting all five in the same rotation has been elusive. Matt Harvey is coming back from surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. Steven Matz had what was termed a “massive’’ bone spur removed from his left elbow and also had a cranky shoulder. Noah Syndergaard pitched with a bone spur in his right elbow. Perhaps the biggest question mark remains Zack Wheeler, who has missed the last two years because of setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Seth Lugo, who was 5-2 with a 2.67 earned run average in eight starts last season, could start the season in the rotation, with Wheeler working in the bullpen.
Of the numerous injuries, deGrom said, “I think it’s obvious and we don’t need to talk about it. Harvey going down, Wheeler trying to recover from Tommy John. It’s like, man, can we catch a break? I think everybody wants to stay healthy, but we haven’t been able to. Hopefully, this is the year that we do. It’s just wishing everybody the best and hoping that they’re healthy for this year.’’
DeGrom recently agreed to terms with the Mets on a 2017 salary of $4.05 million.
“Yes, I was happy with it,’’ he said. “If we wouldn’t have been happy with it, then I think we would have been going to arbitration. It’s tough being injured and then going into your first year of arbitration not having a complete season and then going to try to say you’re worth this amount. That makes it difficult having been hurt. Definitely as a starting pitcher, you have to reach 162 innings to even qualify for the ERA. What was I at, 148? That’s considered not a full year for a starter, so I definitely think that was a factor. I knew that going in.’’
DeGrom went 7-8 with a 3.04 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 148 innings last season.
He said he wants to remain with the Mets long-term and is open to discussing a multiyear deal.
“I’ve said before I enjoy playing in New York,’’ he said. “The fans are great. I wouldn’t mind spending my whole career there.’’
Injuries have prevented the Mets from having all five of their top starters in the rotation at the major-league level. A look at their career totals:
Jacob deGrom: 30-22 2.74 ERA, 479.1 innings, $4.05 million
Matt Harvey: 29-28, 2.94, 519.2, $5.125 million
Noah Syndergaard: 23-16, 2.89 333.2, TBD
Steven Matz: 13-8, 3.16, 168, TBD
*Zack Wheeler: 18-16, 3.50, 285.1, $800,000
* — Missed 2015 and 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery.