The Mets co-aces each hit a milestone in their recoveries from injury today. Max Scherzer made a rehab start with Double-A Binghamton, tossing 3 1/3 innings and 65 pitches. It’s the first game action for the three-time Cy Young winner since he suffered an oblique strain in mid-May.
Jon Heyman and Mark Sanchez of the New York Post wrote over the weekend that Scherzer could return to the big league staff as soon as Sunday. Whether he’s back that quickly remains to be seen, but it’s possible he could beat the initial timeline. The club originally estimated its recovery at six to eight weeks; this Thursday will mark the five-week mark since the injury. Even if Scherzer does wind up requiring one more rehab start before returning to the majors, the Mets surely have to be happy with his current situation considering the initial expectations.
The team announced that Jacob de Grom threw a live batting practice session at their Florida complex (via Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News). It’s the first time deGrom has thrown to hitters since he was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his scapula at the end of Spring Training. The four-time All-Star has been working off the mound for the past couple weeks, and he continues to progress toward an eventual return. A specific timeline for him logging game action is to be determined, and deGrom is expected to require at least three rehab starts before getting back on the Citi Field mound.
In addition to Scherzer and deGrom, New York will be without Tylor Megil for an extended period. The right-hander suffered a shoulder strain and landed on the injured list last week, with the club announcing he’d be shut down from throwing entirely for at least a month.
Megill only managed a 5.01 ERA through nine starts before the injury, but he struck out a quality 27% of batters faced against a 6.3% walk rate. He’s started all 27 of his major league appearances dating back to last year’s call-up, but the Mets have at least given some thought to using him in shorter stints. Ken Rosenthal suggested on this week’s Athletic Baseball Show that New York had some internal discussions about the possibility of converting Megill into a high-leverage setup role once Scherzer and deGrom returned to join Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, Chris Bassitt and depth starters David Peterson other Trevor Williams.
Rosenthal noted those hypotheticals were kicked around before Megill’s injury, which could throw a wrench into any plans. It seems likely he’d require less of a rehab buildup to work out of relief than as a starter, perhaps increasing the appeal of such a move though. Either way, Megill won’t be on an MLB mound for an extended period, and intervening events will no doubt affect the club’s course of action. He’s likely to be out through the August 2 trade deadline, and New York figures to explore the market for both starting and relief help over the coming weeks.