Jacob deGrom threw four dominant innings against the Braves on Wednesday night. And then deGrom did not come out for the fifth. Paul Sewald did.
Citi Field held its breath.
The Mets eventually announced that deGrom has a hyperextended right elbow. The severity of the injury was not immediately known as deGrom underwent an MRI on Wednesday night. The team did not expect to release any information until Thursday.
DeGrom struck out six in four scoreless innings in the Mets’ 7-0 loss to the Braves. The Mets (17-11) fell out of first place in the NL East. They now trail the Braves (18-11) by a half-game. But of far more importance is the fate of deGrom, their co-ace along with Noah Syndergaard.
Manager Mickey Callaway said deGrom suffered the injury on a swing when he struck out for the first out of the third inning. Even though deGrom said his elbow hurt, the Mets let him pitch the fourth.
“He came in,” Callaway said. “He said, ‘You know what? My arm hurts [after] that last swing. So I’m just not going to swing the rest of the night.’ He said, ‘It feels fine throwing.’ He hadn’t had any issues throwing. So he went back out.
DeGrom worked around a two-out single in the fourth before getting out of the inning on a forceout. That was enough.
“When he came in, he felt some soreness in his biceps,” Callaway said. “So we got him out of there.”
DeGrom allowed two hits — both singles — and did not walk a batter. He threw 46 pitches, 36 of them for strikes. He is 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA.
If deGrom has to go on the 10-day disabled list, that could open a door for Matt Harvey to return to the Mets’ rotation. Callaway mentioned Harvey and Triple-A righthander Corey Oswalt as options. The Mets also have converted starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in the bullpen.
“We have options,” Callaway said. “We have plenty of options. We’ll just have to see what the results are and go from there.”
Of Harvey, Callaway said: “He popped into my head right away. We do need to have that discussion: Is it better off for our team, better off for Matt Harvey to stay [in the bullpen] longer? We’ll just have to talk through that.”
Callaway was holding out hope that deGrom might be OK since the injury happened while he was batting and wasn’t a “typical” pitching injury. That might be a small thread, but with the Mets’ injury history you have to hold onto what you can.
“Who knows?” Callaway said. “To think there wasn’t a result from mechanics or an actual pitch, kind of gives you a glimmer of hope.”
The Mets and Braves were scoreless when deGrom departed. Sewald (0-2), who has been so good, threw a scoreless fifth, but allowed the game’s first run in the sixth. Ender Inciarte doubled to lead off the inning and scored on Freddie Freeman’s two-out single.
Braves lefty Sean Newcomb, who threw seven shutout innings, doubled off Sewald with two outs in the seventh. Inciarte followed with a two-run homer to right-center to give Atlanta a 3-0 advantage.
The Braves poured it on with four in the eighth against Gsellman. Nick Markakis had an RBI double, Johan Camargo hit a two-run homer and Ryan Flaherty followed with a solo shot to make it 7-0.
Newcomb (2-1) allowed two hits, walked one and struck out eight.
The Mets are 6-10 since an 11-1 start to the season. They play again on Thursday afternoon, which is probably best since Callaway went home not knowing what the deal was with deGrom.
“I’m sure [I] won’t sleep very good,” Callaway said. “He’s a big part of our team. But all said and done, whatever happens, we can sit here and worry about it and cry about it or whatever, but that’s not going to do us any good. Somebody’s going to have to step up if we get some bad news.”