The MLB season doesn't get underway until Thursday, but the injury bug has already struck across the league. Notable stars such as Ronald Acuna Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr, won't be ready for the start of the season. Over the weekend, another star player went down with an injury.
Jacob deGrom opened as the betting favorite to win the Cy Young in the National League. The Mets' pitcher has finished top-9 in Cy Young voting in six of the last seven seasons. He won the award in back-to-back years in 2018 and 2019 and was well on his way to winning the award again in 2021 before injuries derailed his season. Unfortunately for the Mets and DeGrom backers, injuries have reared their head again for deGrom.
deGrom was a popular favorite
My take on Jacob deGrom this offseason was pretty simple. If you told me that he'd make 30+ starts in 2022, I'd take him to win the Cy Young at almost any odds. There's no denying who the best pitcher in baseball is. deGrom had a 1.08 ERA in 92 innings over half a season in 2021. His ERA was actually an incredible 0.50 before his last three starts, where he pitched through discomfort before shutting his season down.
It was no surprise to see deGrom open as a very short +350 favorite to win the NL Cy Young. It was also no surprise to learn that deGrom was a very popular bet. Nearly 35% of the bets and over 56% of the money was backing deGrom to win the award. Nobody else came close to receiving that level of action in the NL Cy Young market.
Unfortunately, the one thing that could derail deGrom has reared its ugly head, and it happened before Opening Day.
Mets RHP Jacob deGrom has suffered a stress reaction on his right scapula, which has caused inflammation.
He will stop throwing for up to 4 weeks and then be reevaluated. pic.twitter.com/ZvUWg96MZe
— MLB (@MLB) April 1, 2022
It'll be a month until deGrom is even looked at again. If you're optimistic (you're probably not a Mets fan if you are) and believe that everything will check out fine in a month, you're still looking at multiple weeks where deGrom needs to get back into game shape and start throwing again. The Mets will certainly be careful with him. He'll need to make rehab starts in the minors. He will then need to be stretched out. Best case-scenario probably sees deGrom back in the Mets' rotation in late May and then probably a few more weeks after that before he's allowed to go the 7+ innings we're accustomed to seeing from baseball's best pitcher.
Normally, missing such a significant portion of the season is a near death blow to any end of season award consideration. However, due to deGrom's dominance, he still has the fifth-best odds to win the NL Cy Young at 12-to-1. If he returns as quickly as he can, you'll then be banking on deGrom to stay healthy, despite the fact that he will have missed nearly 11 months by the time he's ready to return. Mind you, he hasn't had any surgery to potentially fix any issue over that time. For that reason, unfortunately, I must be out on deGrom this season.
Teammate Max Scherzer assumes favorite role
When the Mets signed Max Scherzer during the offseason, the goal was to pair him with deGrom and have one of the best 1-2 duos at the top of any rotation in recent memory. Unfortunately, that won't be the case for the start of the season. However, if you believe the betting odds, the Mets should still feel very comfortable with their current ace.
Scherzer had the second-best odds to win the Cy Young, so naturally he assumes the favorite role with deGrom going down. Scherzer is now +600 to win the award, after opening at +700.
There's no denying the talent of Scherzer. He doesn't look like he's slowing down at all. He has a 2.45 ERA with 12 strikeouts over 11 innings during Spring Training. However, he too is banged up. Scherzer was scratched from his final spring tune-up with hamstring tightness and his status for Opening Day is in question. While his issue doesn't seem major, Mets fans can't love the start of this season for their rotation.
Rest of Cy Young contenders
Behind Scherzer, these players are near the top of the leaderboard when it comes to NL Cy Young favorites:
Max Scherzer (+600)
Corbin Burnes (+800)
Walker Buehler (+900)
Zack Wheeler (10-to-1)
Jacob deGrom (12-to-1)
Brandon Woodruff (12-to-1)
Logan Webb (16-to-1)
Sandy Alcantara (16-to-1)
Aaron Nola (20-to-1)
Max Fried (20-to-1)