The results of Max ScherzerThe MRI is here, and the news isn’t good for the Mets. The team announced Thursday that Scherzer has a “moderate to high internal oblique strain” and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. He will be placed on the injured list alongside co-ace Jacob of Grom (stress reaction in his shoulder blade) and right-handed Tylor Megill (inflamed biceps).
It’s a blow to the Mets, who are 25-14 and currently hold a six-game lead over the second-place National League East Phillies. Scherzer was injured last night throwing a slider at Albert Pujol, telling reporters after the game that he had felt some tension before feeling a “zing” from his side on the final pitch against Pujols. The three-time Cy Young winner immediately called the coaching staff and could be seen clearly saying “I’m done” as the staff reached the mound.
The Mets broke precedent to bring Scherzer into Queens, signing the 37-year-old right-hander to a three-year contract worth $130 million and giving him the highest annual salary in baseball history. ($43.33 million). Owner Steve Cohen and first-year general manager Billy Eppler surely had visions of the most formidable punch in the game at the time, dreaming of a playoff rotation led by Scherzer and deGrom.
It’s possible the duo could still lead the Mets staff in the playoffs, but deGrom is yet to pitch in 2022 thanks to that shoulder injury. The team announced earlier this week that his latest MRI showed “continuing healing”, but did not provide a timeline for his return. It’s now possible the Mets won’t have this vaunted duo healthy and on the same roster before the all-star break, depending on Scherzer’s recovery.
Even without Scherzer, deGrom and Megill — whose injury should be minimized, given the strength of his early performances — the Mets still have a solid starting staff on paper. Chris Bassit and Carlos Carrasco were outstanding at the start of the season, and the Mets got some quality work from Taijuan walker and (in more limited occasions) left-handed David Peterson, also. It’s likely that Williams and Peterson will be the picks to follow the trio of Bassitt, Carrasco and Walker as the Mets navigate this latest injury streak.
While a solid group, they obviously pale in comparison to a full contingent of Mets starters. And, more worryingly, the depth beyond the current quintet is starting to look more questionable. left-handed veteran Mike Montgomery pitches with the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, but was tagged for a 5.52 ERA in seven starts. Twenty five years Thomas Szapucki was sharp through six Triple-A starts, but only went 21 innings in those outings. right handed Jordan Yamamoto has been a depth option for the Mets in the past, but was dropped from the 40-man roster earlier this season and just made his minor league debut – 1 2/3 shaky innings in High- A — after missing time on the minor league injured reserve. Former Angels right-hander Felix Pena was committed to a minor league, but like Montgomery, he struggled in Triple-A.
Considering how injuries have already reduced the depth of the team, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Mets scour the market for some depth options. Big trades at this time of year are rare but not unheard of. Otherwise, the Mets could turn to some recently DFA weapons (e.g. Jharel Cotton) or veterans who have recently moved into minor league free agency (e.g. Drew Hutchison, Carlos Martinez) with the aim of storing at least some experienced options in the upper minors.