Mets show great caution with deGrom

Since beginning the season by winning 11 of its first 12 games, the New York Mets have been in a freefall, with a record of 8-17 since the torrid start. The latest loss was a 4-2 defeat on Sunday at the hands of division rival Philadelphia, a game that saw Mets starter Jacob deGrom pulled after just one inning.

Every team suffers injuries but the Mets can ill afford to lose deGrom, who missed his previous start with a stint on the 10-day disabled list. He left the May 2 game against Atlanta with a hyperextended elbow. DeGrom was not expecting the quick hook on Sunday.

“I was kind of surprised, honestly,” deGrom said to the New York Times. “I definitely would’ve liked to go back out there.”

The caution with deGrom is not altogether surprising, considering his injury history. DeGrom injured his pitching elbow in his first season in the minors, ultimately needing Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament, knocking him out for the entirety of the next season in 2011. After that injury, deGrom worked his way up to the majors in the 2014 season. He proved to be a surprise star, winning the National League Rookie of the Year award. He continued to be successful through the 2016 season, when he underwent a second surgery on his pitching elbow, this time on his ulnar nerve.

After his most recent injury scare with the same elbow, the Mets’ caution with deGrom is understandable. They can ill afford to lose their No. 2 starter, particularly with the loss of one-time ace Matt Harvey. A litany of injuries and ineffectiveness ended Harvey’s tumultuous tenure with the Mets, who designated Harvey for assignment earlier this month. The Mets eventually traded Harvey to Cincinnati.

The overly cautious approach is somewhat understandable with deGrom. They need him the rotation if they are to keep pace in the tough NL East, where the Mets now sit in fourth place, four games behind Atlanta.