Did the Mets just now make the decision? Did Noah Syndergaard just recently get hurt? Did a prolonged regular season hiatus change the calculus?
No matter the question, the outcome is the same: Mets ace Noah Syndergaard is undergoing Tommy John surgery and will be sidelined until some point during the 2021 season:
New York Mets starter Noah Syndergaard has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery in the near future, sources tell ESPN. The procedure will keep him out until at earliest April 2021 and likely into the summer months.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 24, 2020
The #Mets confirm that Noah Syndergaard has torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery. Will be sidelined until late 2021 season.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 24, 2020
There are some conflicting timelines here – Passan guesses early April on the optimistic end, while Nightengale guess later in the (next) year – but I’d lean more toward the former. Every pitcher is different, but that 1.5-2.0 year timeline hasn’t been nearly as common as it once was, as pitchers now seem to be ready on something closer to a 1.0-1.5 year scale. Either way, it’s all speculation and dependent on the operation, the extent of the injury, Syndergaard’s regenerative abilities, and the rehab process, itself.
In any case, Syndergaard is missing all of 2020 and that’s a huge blow to the Mets.
Last season, Thor made 32 healthy starts (197.2 IP) and finished with an impressive 4.4 WAR, but didn’t quite get the results he’s used to seeing (4.28 ERA). Even still, he was expected to be a huge part of the 2020 starting rotating, now likely lining up like this:
- Jacob deGrom
- Marcus Stroman
- Michael Wacha (I keep forgetting he’s on the Mets)
- Rick Porcello
- Steven Matz
Over the winter, the Mets were projected to take the NL East this season, but it’s also expected to be a very tight battle between them and the Nationals (not to mention the talent on the Braves and Phillies). The loss of a No. 2 starter like Syndergaard, plus the downstream hit to the pitching depth, could fundamentally change that race.
Zooming out, this is the third major announcement of Tommy John surgery to a bonafide ace in the last month or so, as Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale and Yankees stud Luis Severino are both out under identical circumstances. And unfortunately, I don’t know if this will be the last: (1) Pitchers have been forced into irregular schedules and (2) teams have been allotted an opportunity to be a little more aggressive on long-term decisions with a huge chunk of the season likely being missed (i.e. the relative loss of games may be dramatically reduced). If this surgery is something that could have been put off for a little while longer, it might actually be strategically advantageous to get it done now.
Remember the arguments of building around pitching (Mets) or position players (Cubs) after the 2015 NLCS?
Jacob deGrom, TJ
Matt Harvey, TJ
Steven Matz, TJ
Zack Wheeler, TJ
Noah Syndergaard, TJ
Piching hurts, man.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) March 24, 2020