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When Mets ace Jacob deGrom takes the mound at Nationals Park for tonight’s game against the Nationals, it will mark the culmination of a nearly 13-month-long wait for the two-time Cy Young Award winner to return to MLB action, and you can watch it live for free NOW on MLB.TV.

deGrom hasn’t pitched in the Majors since his historic 2021 season ended last July 7 due to right elbow inflammation, and though he looked like his normal dominant self in Spring Training, he was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right scapula that sidelined him for the season’s first four months. He made four Minor League rehab starts, allowing five runs (four earned) with 21 strikeouts over 12 2/3 innings between Single-A St. Lucie and Triple-A Syracuse. He was pronounced ready to return after throwing a successful bullpen session over the weekend in Miami.

Despite the long road back to health, there’s plenty to back up the hype: Nobody’s pitched better than deGrom when he’s healthy. His 1.94 ERA and 205 ERA+ since his first Cy Young season in 2018 are both tops among all starting pitchers, and he posted a microscopic 1.08 ERA with 146 punchouts in 92 innings last season before his elbow injury.

deGrom’s return is a boost for a Mets club that has been in first place in the NL East all season, partly thanks to their success against their division rivals like the Nats, against whom New York is 9-2 this year.

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