Rangers ace Jacob deGrom hits 15-day IL with right elbow inflammation

The Texas Rangers are holding their breath on Jacob deGrom.

The two-time Cy Young winner was placed on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation after exiting his start Friday, the club announced. He didn't appear to be in serious pain or discomfort after throwing 3 2/3 inning, but still left after speaking with Rangers manager Bruce Bochy.

A couple of hours later, after a 5-2 Rangers win over the New York Yankees, Bochy told reporters that deGrom left due to forearm tightness and would be further evaluated Saturday.

The decision was reportedly described as "precautionary," but that didn't stop alarm bells from ringing for many fans, as forearm tightness can often be a precursor to many serious issues, including Tommy John surgery. A diagnosis of elbow inflammation won't help assuage those concerns until he's back pitching.

Injury woes have sadly become a recurring feature of deGrom's career, though that didn't stop the Rangers from giving him a five-year, $185 million contract in free agency last offseason.

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 28: Jacob deGrom #48 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Globe Life Field on April 28, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Jacob deGrom is the Rangers' new ace. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) (Ron Jenkins via Getty Images)

Due to injuries and the shortened 2020 season, deGrom hasn't pitched more than 15 starts in a season since 2019. He hit the 60-day injured list last season due to a stress reaction on his right scapula and in 2021 due to right forearm tightness. He hasn't played a full season without hitting the IL since 2017.

This isn't the first time the Rangers have had reason to worry in 2023, as deGrom also left his first spring training start due to left side tightness.

When healthy, deGrom is the most dominant pitcher in baseball, with a 2.09 ERA, 0.865 WHIP and 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings since his first Cy Young season in 2018. It wasn't hard to understand why the Rangers wanted him, but they had to understand they were signing up for stressful nights like Friday.