Syndergaard threw 124.2 innings in 2013, so he’ll likely be capped somewhere between 155 and 160 innings pitched this season. An innings jump any higher than that is seen as risky for any pitcher, so it would be shocking if the Mets allowed Syndergaard to eclipse 160 innings pitched.
DePodesta relayed to Rubin what the plan for Syndergaard may entail:
The Mets will not delay the start to Syndergaard’s season in order to ensure he has enough innings in the tank late, according to DePodesta. But the Mets may be receptive to introducing Syndergaard to the majors in relief, the VP added, even though that is not something team brass has done with other prospects in their first three years presiding in Flushing. That’s a way the St. Louis Cardinals have been very successful in utilizing rookie pitchers, including with Michael Wacha this past August.
There’s obviously a huge difference between shifting a top pitching prospect to the pen in order for him to be come acclimated to the majors and pitch deeper into the season, and shifting a top starting pitching prospect to the pen and keeping him there.
If Syndergaard saw time in the big league pen in 2014, it would be a temporary thing, which is more than fine.
I’d still expect Syndergaard to make his debut with the Mets in mid-June as a member of the rotation. If the club wants to keep him going deep into September, they can always shift him to the pen once he gets close to his innings limit.