The New York Mets have already dealt with injuries to a number of impact players this year. The bad news didn’t stop coming on Tuesday, as starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard is the latest to hit the disabled list.
To put it simply, the New York Mets can’t catch a break right now. After splitting a doubleheader on Monday against the Atlanta Braves, the team’s official Twitter account dropped some unexpected bad news about starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard:
Noah Syndergaard was examined today at The Hospital for Special Surgery for soreness in his right index finger. A MRI and clinical examination confirmed a strained ligament in the finger. Syndergaard will be placed on the 10-Day Disabled List, retroactive to May 26.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 29, 2018
For a team entering Tuesday’s action with a 26-25 record and holding on for dear life with regard to being a contender, this is incredibly disheartening. What makes it even worse is there didn’t seem to be any news regarding Syndergaard’s health before the announcement was made.
After getting just 30.1 innings out of their imposing right-hander last year because of a torn lat muscle, the Mets were undoubtedly looking forward to Thor taking the mound every fifth day in 2018. While his absence probably won’t be as long as the one they endured in 2017 — at the time of this writing, word on exactly how long he’d be sidelined was unclear — this still hurts for a reeling team with little depth.
Mickey Callaway has had plenty of problems finding consistency out of Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, and Jason Vargas at the back of the rotation so far this year. He didn’t have to worry about Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard, but that’s now a thing of the past as he tries to get his squad back on track.
Syndergaard hasn’t been nearly as dominant as deGrom, but he’s still been a steady asset for this pitching staff. Through 64.2 innings, Thor has posted a 4-1 record with a 3.06 ERA and 2.92 SIERA to go along with a 28.3 percent strikeout rate and 4.8 percent walk rate. He was doing all this while inducing soft contact (25.0 percent) at a higher frequency than allowing hard contact (23.9 percent).
Even with these flashy season-long numbers, it appeared Syndergaard was just starting to hit his stride over the past two starts. Against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers, the right-hander allowed a total of four runs on 12 hits, one walk, and 15 strikeouts in 13 innings of work.
It’s impossible to replace Syndergaard’s production in the rotation, but New York’s lack of depth will be on full display no matter what they do.
An immediate option could be to pluck either of Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo from the bullpen. However, these hurlers have tossed 33.2 and 32.2 innings, respectively, this year. Prior to Tuesday’s games, those are two of the highest innings totals among relievers. So, using one of them in the rotation will also leave a void in an already struggling relief corps.
There also aren’t many exciting options in Triple-A. P.J. Conlon has made two big-league starts and is yet to complete four innings in either. Chris Flexen just got rocked over the weekend and Corey Oswalt has struggled in Las Vegas (and is currently on the disabled list). And then there’s veteran Vance Worley, who currently owns a 13.50 ERA in 16.2 minor-league innings to start the year.
As Callaway said in reference to finding arms for Monday’s doubleheader, they don’t have a lot of options to choose from. The next month or so was already going to be tough on the Mets’ rotation. With Syndergaard needing to sit on the sidelines, it just got tougher. The only hope now is that New York won’t have to piece things together for an extended period of time.