Mets: What does Noah Syndergaard’s injury mean going forward?

 The New York Mets playoff hopes took a crushing blow on Tuesday when the team announced that Noah Syndergaard would need Tommy John surgery after tearing his UCL in his right elbow.

For a team like the New York Mets that entered the 2020 season with lofty expectations mainly due to their superb starting pitching, losing someone like Noah Syndergaard to Tommy John Surgery for the year will be a tough pill to swallow for the orange and blue faithful.

That’s not to say that the team can’t withstand the blow, considering they have the reigning back to back Cy Young Award winner in Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman to frontline the staff.

On the back end, they still have Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha to round out the staff.  It’s definitely a formidable group, but not quite as eye-popping as it would be with Thor mixed in.

So what does this mean for the team? Well for starters, this ends the conversation over the fifth starter role between Matz and Wacha as both will now be expected to be in the rotation. Some people have already begun to suggest that Syndergaard’s injury could result in Seth Lugo returning to the rotation with Wacha going to the bullpen.

This would be a mistake in my opinion.

Although Lugo has shown promise in his brief time as a starter, it’s obvious that he is most effective out of the bullpen. Throughout most of last season, Lugo was in the conversation as one of the best relievers in baseball.

I could be wrong, but I don’t see Lugo having the same dominance in a starter’s role.

As for Wacha, he has been a starter his entire career, so to expect him to go to the bullpen and perform at a high level is an unfair ask. Unless he begins to get lit up every fifth day (ala Jason Vargas 2018) he should remain in the starting rotation.

Is it impossible to see a situation where Wacha or Matz is ineffective resulting in Lugo or Robert Gsellman returning to the rotation? No, but that would be far from an ideal situation for the team.

This is all looking at the situation from a team perspective. When it comes to how this will affect Syndergaard and his career, this is definitely not an optimal time for an injury of this magnitude. Not only was Syndergaard hoping to be a key member of the 2020 Mets, but he is also almost surely thinking about how this will impact his free agency following the 2021 season.

With a dominant 2020 and 2021 seasons, Syndergaard could command a contract that surpasses what deGrom received from the Mets last year. Following this injury, Syndergaard will need to show signs of his dominant self, whenever he returns, assuming it will be sometime before the All-Star break in 2021.

In the long run, this may help the Mets chances of re-signing Syndergaard when he becomes a free agent. If I had to bet, I’d say Syndergaard re-signs for a short term deal to prove himself and get the type of long term contract that he desires.

Although he has shown flashes of brilliance, many Mets fans don’t want to admit that Syndergaard hasn’t been the dominant force on the mound we had all imagined him being.  While most of this can be attributed to him dealing with injuries in 2017 and 2018, the same can not be said for 2019.

During the 2019 season, the hard-throwing righty had a 4.28 ERA which isn’t awful, but it is quite unexpected for someone with Syndergaard’s arsenal. The guy is a freak. He throws a 100 mph fastball with a 90+ mph slider.

So for him to have an ERA above 4.00, it is pretty alarming.

With all of this being said, I do expect Syndergaard to come back with a chip on his shoulder and be the dominant force that we’ve seen flashes of since his debut in 2015.  Hopefully, when we look back 20 years from now, this will only be a speed bump in a wonderful career for Noah Syndergaard.

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Only time will tell, but as all Mets fans are, I’m wishing all the best for the guy they call Thor.