Mets ace Jacob deGrom to pitch simulated game Tuesday

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CHICAGO — As expected, Jacob deGrom’s next and maybe last rehab outing will take place at Clover Park.

The Mets ace is scheduled to pitch a live batting practice, or simulated game, on Tuesday at Port St. Lucie, Fla. That will be considered his fourth rehab start as his odyssey back to the majors from a shoulder injury is nearing its end.

DeGrom tossed 42 pitches across four innings in his latest rehab start on Thursday at Triple-A Syracuse. He was cleared to throw up to 50 pitches, but his efficient outing against Miami’s Triple-A affiliate, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, saw him finish the start even sooner.

His next time out, deGrom should have the green light to throw around 60 pitches across five innings. If the Mets are comfortable with Tuesday being his final tune-up before he rejoins the rotation, then deGrom should be ramped up enough to go six innings, 75 pitches in his season debut.

There are a few dates to keep an eye on as deGrom’s rehab schedule finally wraps up.

If Tuesday is indeed his final rehab outing, deGrom would be lined up to start for the Mets against the Padres on July 24 at Citi Field. That would keep him on a regular, five-day schedule. If the Mets want to give him extra rest, like they did before his third rehab outing, then he could make his season debut against the Yankees on July 26 or 27 at Citi Field.

If Tuesday is not his final rehab outing, and the Mets would prefer he stretches out with a fifth rehab start, then deGrom could start for the Mets against the Marlins on July 29 in Miami. This seems like the least likeliest scenario.

The Mets should want to put deGrom on a big league mound as soon as possible, particularly while his injuries are resolved and he’s feeling healthy. There is no telling how long that good health will last. DeGrom has sustained several injuries, from lower back to elbow to shoulder issues, in his last two years with the Mets. He hasn’t pitched a major league start since July 7, 2021.

DeGrom has said that at the end of this season he will exercise the opt-out clause in his team-friendly Mets contract. He would be walking away from the $30.5 million the Mets owe him in 2023, the final year of his deal. If deGrom returns to the majors by the end of this month as planned, the ace should be able to complete 12-13 starts in the second half of the regular season — barring any setbacks or injuries.