It’s been a lost season for the New York Mets, and especially for stud starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard. At 65-84, the Mets are already out of playoff contention, and Syndergaard hasn’t made a start since April 30th while recovering from a torn lat.
That’s why this tweet about Syndergaard’s possible return during the final two weeks of the 2017 season caught me offguard.
Heard for the first time today some hesitation regarding Syndergaard. Team is running out of time, and he needs to be 100 percent to go.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) September 17, 2017
Syndergaard hasn’t started in the majors in nearly five months. He’s recovering from a pretty serious muscle injury. His rehab stints this season have totaled just two innings over three starts.
And yet, the Mets are considering bringing him back…why, exactly?
Is it to sell tickets? Doubtful, given that the team has just seven home games left this season and tickets for some of those games are available on the secondary market for as low as $2.
Is it to help the team contend? Please – as mentioned above, they’re already out of the playoff race and have clinched a losing record.
Is it to just get some extra eyeballs on Syndergaard to see how he’s doing heading into the 2018 season? That’s a possibility, but what could the Mets really gain from one or two outings over the final two weeks of the season?
Perhaps more alarming is the fact that the Mets’ doctors examined Syndergaard over the weekend and axed plans to have him make an appearance against the Braves.
The team had hoped that Syndergaard would be able to pitch this weekend against the Atlanta Braves, but that was scrapped after he was examined Saturday by the team medical staff. Syndergaard threw a bullpen session with no restrictions on Thursday.
If the team’s doctors examine the player and decide he’s not ready to pitch quite yet…why are you even considering letting him pitch days later?
I somewhat understand the team’s thinking here – their season has been a disaster. Jacob deGrom has been their only healthy (and effective, for that matter) starter. They need to know if they can count on a full workload for Syndergaard next season. If they can’t, maybe trading deGrom and his three remaining seasons of control for a bounty of prospects would be the team’s best hopes of contending in the future.
But given how important Syndergaard has been to the Mets in recent years, they need to be careful with him. If he takes the mound over this final two weeks and re-aggravates the lat (which isn’t a remote possibility), the Mets will get *pounded* by the team’s fans, along with local and national media – and Syndergaard’s status will remain a question going into Spring Training.
In summary, the positive benefit for rolling Syndergaard out there this month: the Mets get a grasp on how his recovery is coming along. The negative benefits: he could aggravate the injury for minimal benefit and miss part of the 2018 season.
The choice seems simple to me. Unless, of course, the Mets want an excuse to punt on 2018 before it’s even begun.