Jacob deGrom
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

Jacob deGrom is still rehabbing from a stress reaction in his right scapula, an injury that’s kept him off the major league mound this entire season.

But the Mets ace could be inching towards a return. A minor league rehab start for Single-A St. Lucie is potentially around the corner.

The Mets have kept their heads above water without him, as they still sit atop the National League East (albeit by only 3.0 games over the Braves).

Returning the elite right-hander would obviously provide a steller boost to the starting rotation. But the Mets shouldn’t completely rush the imminent return. The organization as a whole needs to make sure deGrom is in the best shape possible when he finally returns to the mound for the major league club, whenever that may be. He’ll need to prove down the stretch (possibly into October) that he can remain consistently healthy. He hasn’t done so since midway through last season.

Max Scherzer is additionally progressing in his rehab and doesn’t believe he’ll need any more rehab starts, per Pat Ragazzo of Sports Illustrated. His last rehab start for Double-A Binghamton was Wednesday — he allowed four hits and two earned runs in 4.2 innings.

Scherzer hasn’t pitched since exiting a May 18 start with left side discomfort. The subsequent MRI revealed a moderate to high grade oblique strain. It remains unknown when exactly the right-hander will make his much-anticipated return to the Mets.

While the Mets are still in first place, the month of June was a sheer challenge, especially without deGrom and Scherzer. They needed to embark on a 10-game road trip out West that included four games against the Dodgers and three against the Padres. The Mets most recently fell victim to a two-game sweep against the Astros for the second time in one week. Tuesday’s 9-1 loss to Houston saw Carlos Carrasco allow six hits and six earned runs in 4.1 innings. It was one of those crushing defeats that proved how much the Mets need their two aces back in the rotation.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.