John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
There was bound to be panic among Mets fans, no matter how the news was delivered that Jacob deGrom was going to get an MRI, but in retrospect it sure seemed the ballclub raised the panic level higher than necessary with what appeared to be some level of miscommunication.
After all, how could anyone not think the worst when Mickey Callaway announced Friday afternoon that deGrom was being scratched from his Saturday start, and heading back to New York for an MRI on his elbow -- immediately, it seemed.
Over the next hour or so, however, Brodie Van Wagenen released a statement providing important context, saying deGrom felt better after getting treatment from the medical staff on Friday, and wouldn't be getting that MRI until Monday, while staying with the team in St. Louis for the weekend series against the Cardinals.
Meanwhile, Mets' people were getting the word out privately to reporters that their level of concern was low, indicating the MRI was a matter of caution, or standard operating procedure these days.
None of this means deGrom couldn't still get bad news of some kind on Monday. The fact that he's feeling any type of discomfort in his elbow is obviously of huge concern, all the more so coming only a month after he signed that five-year, $137.5 million contract extension.
It's just that the Mets could have eased the shock level for their fans if they had released Van Wagenen's statement first, before Callaway spoke at his usual pre-game press session Friday afternoon.
The GM saying that deGrom experienced "mild soreness" and felt "significantly better following treatment" sounded a lot less ominous than Callaway saying his ace was getting an MRI because his elbow was "barking."
Whatever the semantics, deGrom is being placed on the 10-day injured list retroactively, with Van Wagenen making a point of saying the Mets' ace could be back next Friday, the 26th, at home against the Brewers.
The MRI will determine whether that turns out to be the case, and it just might determine the Mets' fate this season. If it turns out to be more significant than the team is saying it expects, this team doesn't have the depth of pitching to even think about contending.
Even with a healthy deGrom, the pitching has been shakier than anyone expected, both the starters and relievers.
DeGrom aside, the No. 1 concern remains how to fill the No. 5 starter spot. Jason Vargas wasn't terrible against the Cardinals on Friday night, allowing one run in four innings, even if he just barely kept the ball in the ballpark at times while giving up some long fly balls.
Yet it was telling that the Mets wouldn't let Vargas face the Cardinals' lineup a third time, deciding to pull him after four innings.
And while the Mets hung on for a 5-4 win, Callaway had to use five relievers to get the final 15 outs, and with all of the problems the bullpen is having this season, that's hardly a sustainable formula.
So what now?
Obviously the Mets could solve the problem by signing Dallas Keuchel, but all indications are the free agent's price tag is still too high, and certainly it seems the Mets are more interested in Gio Gonzalez right now.
Gonzalez can opt out of his minor league deal with the Yankees on Saturday, assuming he's not called up to the Bronx from Triple-A, and that appears to be what he'll do, according to a source, since it appears Brian Cashman is prepared to stick with Domingo Germán as his fifth starter.
The Mets appear to have interest in signing Gonzalez if he does opt-out, as SNY's Andy Martino has reported, perhaps all the more so after the lefty switched agents this week, leaving Scott Boras in favor of CAA, Van Wagenen's old agency, in anticipation of opting out.
Gonzalez hasn't wowed scouts since signing with the Yankees, as his fastball velocity has declined the last couple of years, to around 90 mph now, but he has gotten good results in his last two Triple-A starts with the Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
He will pitch in Buffalo on Saturday after being rained out Friday night, with a Mets scout in attendance.
And while Keuchel is probably the better pitcher at this point, he's not the guy who won the Cy Young Award in 2015 either, so it makes sense for the Mets to take a shot with Gonzalez, if they have the chance to sign him to something like what the Yankees did -- a $3 million guarantee if he's in the big leagues, and $300,000 per start on top of that.
Personally, I still think it would be best for the Mets to sign Craig Kimbrel to beef up the bullpen and utilize Seth Lugo as a starter, as I wrote this week, but Kimbrel too is probably still too beyond what they're willing to spend.
Even a semi-serviceable start from Vargas didn't change the big picture: they need to do something.
And that's if the deGrom news is good on Monday. Which at least sounds more likely than when Callaway first dropped his bombshell on Friday afternoon.