The New York Mets roster is shaping up in different ways than expected. Instead of the huge free-agent signings, they were in the running for, it’s come down to solid alternatives.
Mets didn’t get Trevor Bauer, but they do have Marcus Stroman and Cookie Carrasco, both of who were not on their radar until a signing and a trade brought them here. Then they brought in insurance pitcher Joey Lucchesi and of course, they have a promising David Peterson.
With deGrom at the top, the aforementioned pitchers in the mix, and Sandy Alderson’s quest to still add another starting-caliber arm, what happens if Noah Syndergaard comes back to a log-jam. Which of these pitchers gets the boot to the bullpen, minor leagues, or released? What if the answer is none? Then what?
Mets use Noah Syndergaard as an elite reliever
Understanding that is a super-specific hypothetical, there’s only a small chance that all five starters are thriving when Syndergaard returns. The first three in the rotation aren’t moving regardless. So the real battle would be between Peterson, Lucchesi, and starter to be named later. If two of these pitchers are off to a fantastic start and really dealing on the mound, it becomes difficult to just force Noah in there especially since he hasn’t pitched in so long.
One option can be playing Tampa Bay Rays style baseball. The Mets can have one of the starters go four to five innings and then the second one comes in and finishes up. Imagine Noah Syndergaard coming in in the 5th inning just throwing gas for the next couple of innings? That would be awesome!
Another option would be to use him in a Seth Lugo type role in tandem. The Mets don’t like to use Lugo on back-to-back days, but every other day or every three days, Lugo comes in for two to three innings and gets the job done. What if, Syndergaard is in that role on days where Lugo doesn’t go? It would allow Noah to build up innings and get his feet wet as he ramps up his arm and stamina to be pitching again.
When the inevitable injury or poor performance occurs, he can be slotted back in the rotation.
Speaking of Lugo, he’s currently injured. The timetable of him even throwing is six weeks away. Then there’s a month or so of rehab and extended spring training. There’s a chance Lugo comes back at the same time as Noah. There’s also a chance Noah comes back earlier than Lugo.
There have been pitchers who have come back earlier than projected from Tommy John surgery. If Syndergaard looks like he’s ready to go in early April, he can be thrust into that late-innings longman role for a bit until Seth returns.
That would give time to A. evaluate how the other starters are doing or B. fall into the scenario first painted with there being a log jam.
It would also allow the Mets to see how Noah’s arm is fairing, after all, it’s been through.
Maybe we get Lugo and Syndergaard. Imagine a sixth through ninth inning of Lugo, Syndergaard, Edwin Diaz before a day off?
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The above scenarios are unlikely, but it’s fun to speculate and imagine. Syndergaard would also most likely have a problem with this. This gets compounded even greater because it’s before a contract season. His goal is to come back and show what he can do as a starter coming off a major injury. You know he’s trying to earn that next contract.