Mets can’t rationalize sending Noah Syndergaard back to minors

By Danny Abriano

Before he made his major league debut, the idea that the Mets could send Noah Syndergaard back to Triple-A Las Vegas wasn’t crazy. Now? It’s something that can’t be framed as a baseball decision.

Syndergaard, who impressed during his first start last week at frigid Wrigley Field and dominated the Brewers for six innings on Sunday during his second start, has – as Nuke Laloosh once said – announced his presence with authority. Syndergaard’s time is now.

Meanwhile, Dillon Gee is set to make one more rehab start before potentially being activated from the disabled list.

Prior to Sunday’s game, Terry Collins, while saying it wasn’t his decision, noted that whether or not Syndergaard remains in the starting rotation will be dictated by who the front office deems the best option between Syndergaard and Gee. Nothing against Gee, but the Mets already have their answer.

In Syndergaard, the club has a 22-year-old who came into the season as one of the best prospects in baseball, dominated Triple-A, and then translated that approach and success to the majors. Syndergaard put it all together on Sunday, limiting Milwaukee to three hits and one run in six innings of work while walking one, striking out five, and throwing 70 percent of his pitches for strikes.

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In Gee, the Mets have a pitcher who they tried to trade all offseason, and who was destined for the bullpen before Zack Wheeler‘s season-ending injury. Gee, arbitration eligible again after the season, is almost certainly playing his last season as a Met.

Even before Syndergaard came up to replace the injured Gee, the Mets were hinting that Gee could be replaced in the rotation by Rafael Montero, who later injured his shoulder. The choice is clear.

There’s one non-baseball issue at play here, though, and that’s Syndergaard’s Super 2 eligibility. If the Mets don’t send Syndergaard back to the minors for three weeks at some point this season, he’ll likely become arbitration eligible a year earlier, perhaps costing the Mets a few million dollars.

However, the Mets have already secured an additional year of team control over Syndergaard, which was their main goal coming into the season.

The Mets cannot rationalize removing Syndergaard from the starting rotation at this point, which is why it’ll be stunning if it happens.

When Gee is ready to return, he can slide to the bullpen, with Jack Leathersich sent back to Triple-A to make room. Once the Mets get Vic Black and Bobby Parnell back, the Mets can again explore a potential trade of Gee. And Syndergaard can remain in the rotation, which is where he belongs.