Bartolo Colon was recently placed on revocable trade waivers, and the Mets will know at some point on Monday whether or not any team has claimed him.
If the Mets are able to deal Colon, it really should pave the way for Noah Syndergaard – their top pitching prospect who is apparently on the outside looking in as far as a promotion – to join the big club.
As recently as Sunday, it was noted that there was no indication the Mets were considering an imminent promotion of Syndergaard. Ignoring for a second that Syndergaard should already be up with the Mets, let’s examine how a Colon trade could create the perfect storm for a Syndergaard call-up:
Regardless of whether or not a team claims Colon, if he is indeed traded, he’ll have to be moved between now and August 31. If that happens and the Mets don’t move any of their other starting pitchers up in the rotation, the club will need a starter for August 30 at Citi Field – and conceivably beyond.
Adam Rubin recently reported that, regardless of the circumstances, Daisuke Matsuzaka is not expected to re-enter the rotation. Rafael Montero, who was recently sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas, can’t be called up before or on August 30 unless it’s as an injury replacement. That would seem to leave the Mets with two choices: the mightily struggling Carlos Torres, or Syndergaard.
Since a Colon trade would mean an open spot in the rotation for the remainder of the season, turning to Syndergaard instead of a bevy of spot-starters and/or other potential minor league options should be the play.
So far this season, Syndergaard has tossed 124.1 innings. In 2013, he hurled 117.2 innings. The Mets generally allow their pitchers to increase their workload by 30 innings per season, which means Syndergaard has roughly 25 innings left this season. If he were called up before his next scheduled start (which is Wednesday), he should be able to make at least four starts for the Mets. That would take him to the middle of September.
There are still some who point to Syndergaard’s 4.85 Pacific Coast League ERA as a sign that he isn’t ready. The problem, is that a simplistic view like that ignores pretty much every important factor.
Syndergaard’s ERA is average for the PCL, where it’s hard to grip the baseball, hard infields lead to cheap hits (see Syndergaard’s insane .380 BABIP against), thin air turns outs into doubles and doubles into home runs, and players deal with almost daily oppressive heat.
Digging deeper into Syndergaard’s numbers, you’ll see that his FIP is 3.79 - a much more accurate reflection of his performance. Additionally, Syndergaard’s K/9, BB/9, and HR/9 are all where they were expected to be. And his stuff is there. During his last start, he sat between 97 and 99 MPH with his fastball.
Frankly, there is nothing left for Syndergaard to learn and/or prove in Triple-A. The next learning curve for him will be in the majors. And during an evaluation year for the Mets, the majors are exactly where Syndergaard should be.
If the Mets don’t promote Syndergaard this season, he almost certainly won’t be up until after April 20 of 2015 (when the club will have guaranteed another year of control). If that date passes, it’s not out of the question that the Mets will further delay Syndergaard’s arrival until after the Super-2 date (some time in mid-June). Doing so would mean Syndergaard spent nearly a year and a half in Triple-A, which would be pointless.
The time for Syndergaard is now, and if Bartolo Colon is traded, a spot will be open.