Mets ace Jacob deGrom shut down with right scapula injury

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets watches the action against the New York Yankees during a game at Citi Field on September 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Jacob deGrom is once again out with an injury. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The New York Mets didn't have to wait for opening day to get some brutal injury news.

Cy Young favorite Jacob deGrom, previously announced as the Mets' opening day starter, has been shut down from throwing for up to four weeks after an MRI showed a stress reaction in his right scapula, the team announced Friday. His timetable for return will reportedly be updated once the team looks at the affected area again.

Therefore, deGrom will no longer be the Mets' opening day starter. Offseason acquisition Max Scherzer will likely take the mound in his place against the Washington Nationals on April 7.

There were already worries about deGrom's health after Mets manager Buck Showalter told reporters Thursday that the right-hander was dealing with a tight throwing shoulder.

This is the absolute last thing the Mets wanted to see before entering the season in which they had World Series aspirations. Only the Texas Rangers spent more money in a historically busy offseason, with New York's biggest move being the addition of Scherzer on a record three-year, $130 million deal.

Baseball's best pitcher injured again

Before the news, deGrom was BetMGM's NL Cy Young favorite at +350 odds, followed by Scherzer at +700 and 2021 winner Corbin Burnes at +800.

deGrom would have been the overwhelming favorite had injuries not been a concern. No pitcher in baseball comes close to deGrom's effectiveness over the last four seasons, with a 1.94 ERA, 2.14 FIP, 0.881 WHIP, 12.0 strikeouts per nine innings and two Cy Young Awards. Unfortunately, injuries became a recurring issue last season.

deGrom opened 2021 on a historically good tear, carrying a sub-1 ERA into the month of July. There were bumps in the road, though, with the flamethrower exiting a game or missing a start four different times. First it was right lat inflammation, then tightness in his right side, then right elbow tendinitis and finally right shoulder soreness. He hit the injured list for good on July 17 with the much-feared forearm tightness, often a precursor to Tommy John surgery.

More setbacks would follow, first on July 30, then Aug. 13. Mets president Sandy Alderson told reporters in September that deGrom had partially torn his UCL, but imaging showed the ligament to "perfectly intact" by then. The whole thing took a distinctly Mets turn when deGrom blamed his positioning during an MRI for his later issues.

After that kind of season, the Mets could only hope deGrom was healthy this year. That hope is off to a bad start.