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Mets’ Rotation Now a Liability

Starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, shown here throwing a pitch in a 2015 game against the Chicago Cubs, was the most recent to suffer from the injury bug on the New York Mets. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons - Patrick Stanley
Starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, shown here throwing a pitch in a 2015 game against the Chicago Cubs, was the most recent to suffer from the injury bug on the New York Mets. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons – Patrick Stanley

By Jon Remache

Published: May 10th, 2017

The New York Mets find themselves multiple games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East Division, and the situation is likely to get worse before it improves.

The starting pitching rotation was once considered the team’s strength, but injuries have flipped the script. The telltale sign is the lack of injury prevention and lack of communication between players and management, which led to the Mets limping into May. Sustaining consistency in their rotation depends on the health of their starters, but their health depends on how the starters are handled—and so far, they have clearly been mismanaged.

The season began with Steven Matz on the disabled list, and despite reports of no structural damage, he was instructed to take three weeks off from throwing.  Shortly after, Matz revealed to the media that he was suffering from a strained flexor tendon, which, according to Bob Klapisch, left team officials scratching their heads and frustrated as they wondered who diagnosed Matz.  The team’s surgeons reportedly found nothing wrong with Matz’s pitching arm. Confusion aside, Matt threw around 20 pitches on May 2, according to The Bergen Record, as he endures another journey back to the recovery.

Noah Syndergaard’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) debacle is one that could’ve been avoided had Mets’ General Manager (GM) Sandy Alderson put his foot down. Syndergaard claimed he did not need to undergo an MRI last Friday after being scratched from his start against the Atlanta Braves the day prior. Syndergaard was diagnosed with bicep tendinitis, but claimed he felt fine after receiving an anti-inflammatory medication and a bullpen session.

Three days later, Syndergaard left Sunday’s game in the second inning after painfully grimacing, and he was later diagnosed with a torn latissimus dorsi muscle.  Upon seeking a second opinion, Syndergaard reportedly received positive news, but is still likely to miss three to six months.  Prior to Sunday’s outing, Syndergaard possessed a team leading 1.73 earned run average (ERA) in 26 innings pitched.

Matt Harvey received a clean bill of health entering the season, but he was called on to replace Syndergaard after he was scratched from last Thursday’s game against Atlanta. He was unaware he’d pitch until hours before the game. The result wasn’t pretty, as Harvey struggled mightily, allowing six runs in over four innings of work, blaming his performance on a weightlifting session the day prior. The Mets put Harvey at risk by not giving him the proper time to prepare, and he didn’t fare well in his next start on Tuesday against the Braves—he was tagged with another six runs. Prior to these last two starts, Harvey’s ERA stood under 3.00 and showed promise following a 2016 season that was cut short due to thoracic outlet syndrome

Seth Lugo could have done wonders for the Mets, but instead he began the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.  Lugo opted to pitch for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic in March. Although the Mets were okay with decision, Lugo’s arm fatigue might have been a result of pitching with high stakes so early in the year. The Mets find themselves wondering if and when Lugo will return to give the bullpen some much-needed reinforcement.   

Jacob deGrom has been the most consistent Mets starter, performance and health-wise. Although he ended April with a 2.84 ERA, he did give up five runs against the Braves in his last start on Wednesday. 

Zack Wheeler is trying to find consistency in not only pitching effectively, but also pitching deep into games, as he finished up April with a 4.78 ERA.

After winning the final spot in the rotation, Robert Gsellman failed to bring the same magic into the regular season.  Gsellman owns a 6.75 ERA and has struggled to hold down the fort thus far into the season.

With Syndergaard on the disabled list, the Mets announced Rafael Montero as Friday’s starter against the Marlins, and we have little to no reason to be optimistic as Montero has been dreadful out of the bullpen this season and is now being relied on to start.  With no other options, the Mets enter the month of May in desperation mode after recently adding Yoenis Cespedes and Syndergaard to the long list of injuries in the early season.   

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