Mets’ pitcher Jacob deGrom to make rehab start for AAA Syracuse Thursady night

New York Mets' Jacob deGrom (48) during the first inning of the first baseball game of a...
New York Mets' Jacob deGrom (48) during the first inning of the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)(Frank Franklin II | AP)
Updated: Jul. 13, 2022 at 9:58 PM EDT
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SYRACUSE, NY (AP) - Jacob deGrom’s next rehab start likely won’t be his last, but it’s another indication of just how close the two-time Cy Young Award winner is to a return. deGrom will make his third rehab outing Thursday night for Triple-A Syracuse against Jacksonville.

In his first two rehab starts, deGrom was dynamic, striking out 11 of the 18 batters he faced over 4 2/3 combined scoreless innings. Those came against lower-level competition for Single-A St. Lucie, while deGrom’s third start should present a more significant challenge. Among the hitters he is likely to face are fourth-ranked Marlins prospect JJ Bleday and power-hitting first baseman Lewin Díaz, who is 2-for-6 in his Major League career against deGrom.

Also of note is the fact that deGrom figures to throw to the second-ranked prospect in all of baseball, Francisco Álvarez, who could be his future batterymate in Flushing. Max Scherzer recently pitched to Álvarez during his own rehab assignment and came away impressed.

“He’s a nice, low target,” Scherzer said recently. “He sits down really well. Working with him, he had a good presentation of his target with his glove. I actually thought throwing to him, the way he can stick a low pitch -- for being as young as he is, he did a really good job with it. … He has the foundation to become a good catcher.”

While Álvarez has been a popular ticket since his promotion to Syracuse earlier this month, on Thursday, the focus will be elsewhere. deGrom is working his way back from a stress reaction in his right scapula, which has sidelined him for the entire first half of the season. He stretched out to 36 pitches in his last outing and has routinely hit triple digits on the radar guns during his rehab starts. At Syracuse, deGrom should eclipse 50 pitches for the first time.

While the Mets have been tightlipped about their expectations for deGrom, the general expectation is that he will make one more start after Thursday’s outing -- likely in a simulated setting because most of Minor League Baseball will be shut down for the All-Star break. If deGrom can stretch out to 65 pitches or more in that one, he could return to the Mets five or six days later -- probably July 24 against the Padres or July 26 against the Yankees. Even the most conservative of schedules have deGrom returning before the end of the month.

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