Unfortunately, the human arm wasn’t meant to throw 100 mph fastballs. New York Mets starter Noah Syndergaard learned this the hard way.
“The human arm, elbow, etc. was not made to do what they do.”
That’s the analysis of New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard from a long-time big league scout. Last week it was the Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox, now Syndergaard. Tommy John surgery, that has become a norm for those who throw hard fastballs, sliders, and other secondary pitches.
But, Mets fans, they don’t want to hear the analysis. A possible curtailed baseball schedule leaves the Mets one starter short. The cancellation of the 2020 season is still very possible, meaning that Syndergaard might not miss too many starts anyway.
Though in the long run, the Mets need Noah Syndergaard. With MLB’s original Opening Day come and gone without baseball, Citi Field was supposed to be Jacob deGrom’s for the day. Friday was supposed to be for the man they call “Thor.”
And to many of the baseball experts, that one-two punch of deGrom and Syndergaard had the Mets looking good for a postseason in October.
Regardless, the Mets are an arm short.
Syndergaard was scheduled for surgery Thursday morning In West Palm Beach, FL. The hard-throwing righty will likely need between 12 and 18 months to fully recover. When he does return, he’ll follow deGrom in the rotation once again.
That is the goal now for Noah Syndergaard and the Mets, as they look at options to fill that void in the rotation.
“They pitch differently,” said the scout. “They don’t pace themselves. Too much torque on breaking balls and trying to throw 100 mph.”
He said Noah Syndergaard is in that category, along with 25 of the hardest throwing pitchers since 2018. In that group, 11, had Tommy John surgery.
The Mets, under general managers Omar Minaya and Sandy Alderson, built around their pitching. Once the organization with a stable of top-notch pitching prospects, that seems to be a far-fetched memory.
Coincidence? Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, and former Met Zack Wheeler, all Mets hurlers in the Tommy John surgery club. Noah Syndergaard, with previous arm and elbow issues, is now a member of that group.
However, that is neither here nor there. Baseball, on hiatus, has more time to assess the issue of this rapid and growing trend of pitchers and Tommy John surgery.
Because throwing hard and consistently at 100 mph often leads to a tear of the ligament, and until proven otherwise, this is an issue that insiders have been concerned about the past few years.
And the Mets, as with others in this situation, need to improvise and fill the void which also becomes an issue.
So where do the Mets go from here? Assuming there is a resumption of baseball activities, there are options for the Mets to fill the void.
Matt Harvey? One insider informed ESNY that the Mets are not exploring a reunion with the right-hander. “A Dark Knight” reunion in Flushing is not going to happen,” he said.
Harvey, without a team, brings that baggage and the insider said he observed a fastball that had no command with the Angels. Harvey, then, gave up four home runs against the Twins. The $11 million dollar investment, 12 starts, a 7.09 ERA.
Though no fault of the Mets in parting ways with Wheeler, now with the Phillies, his departure opens a major void in their rotation. Then again, it’s the business of baseball.
And a rotation now of deGrom, followed by Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz does not look bad.
GM Brodie Van Wagenen, to his credit, went with depth this offseason with additions of Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello on one-year contracts.
Yes, there was that competition for two starting spots, Now, the three-way competition between Matz, Wacha, and Porcello is answered.
As the insider said, about Porcello, from watching him up close in Grapefruit League play, “The movement of his curveball and the fastball looked like he could be headed to a comeback year.”
As they say, you never have enough pitching. The Mets once had that but in the last two years, the prospects were moved in trades that have backfired.
So assume again, and this is speculation, that Porcello and Wacha have comeback years after allowing a combined 57 home runs in 200 innings with the Red Sox and Cardinals, respectively. The Mets were seeing the difference before baseball suspended operations.
There are very few and better options to replace Noah Syndergaard. The Mets don’t want Seth Lugo, projected to come out of the pen, to be that other starter unless they have limited options.
“I could see David Peterson get a shot at a spot,” the insider said about the Mets first-round draft pick in 2017 who was slated to start at Triple-A Syracuse.
Walker Lockett was not expected to make the 26-man roster. Corey Oswalt was not high on the depth chart. Erasmo Ramirez, the 29-year old right-hander and eight-year veteran, signed to a Minor League contract could be in the mix.
“Saw him throw eight good innings in spring games and will tell you his command of his fastball and slider got some attention,” said the insider.
The Mets will get through this with some options. Noah Syndergaard, from baseball standards, is young and strong enough to make a comeback.
And one advantage of this coronavirus pandemic is more time to recuperate with no baseball planned anytime soon. The other lesson learned is that the human arm was not meant to do what they do.