Kodai Senga injury keeps a troubling Mets streak alive

Spring training is barely underway, and already the sky is falling for Mets fans

Another preseason, another Mets ace on the shelf
Another preseason, another Mets ace on the shelf / Elsa/GettyImages

I know there are many fanbases that believe the baseball gods are against them. Everyone has heard of the Red Sox's "Curse of the Bambino" and the Cubs' "Curse of the Billy Goat," but those are old news. The Red Sox have won four World Series titles in the past two decades. The Cubs broke the curse in 2016.

If any Major League team is cursed in the year of our lord 2024, it is the New York Mets, and I'm not sure it's even close. Worse yet, Mets fans can't even get to Opening Day without the baseball gods reminding us that this isn't going to be our year, either.

To me, spring training is for one thing: don't get hurt. The Mets are very not good at that one thing, a fact that has become agonizingly obvious once again with the news that Kodai Senga will miss the start of the season with a moderate strain of the posterior capsule in his throwing shoulder. I'm no doctor, but I've been a Mets fan long enough to understand that the real diagnosis is that once again, the Mets are screwed.

Kodai Senga's bad news is the latest instance of the "Curse of the Mets spring training pitching injury"

I need to workshop a catchier title for that to really take off, but the fact remains, no team has seen its hopes more consistently crushed before the season even begins than the Mets in recent years. Let's recap, beginning with Senga and working backwards.

Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, two of New York's most prized recent free agents, were shipped away at last year's trade deadline, so Senga came into this season as the unquestioned ace of the staff. It remains to be seen how much time he will miss, but in his absence, the Mets will need the rest of their moderately budgeted staff, including Jose Quintana, Sean Manaea, and Luis Severino, to step up.

Mets fans have been through this before, and they have the battle scars to prove it. Last year, new acquisition Justin Verlander missed the first month of the season with an arm strain, and that was somehow barely worth mentioning in the wake of All-Star closer Edwin Diaz tearing his patellar tendon in the World Baseball Classic. Verlander eventually settled in, but he didn't get his season ERA under 4.00 until July. One month later, he was traded to the Astros.

Jacob deGrom, the Mets' best pitcher since Tom Seaver, was thought to be recovered from a forearm injury that caused him to miss the end of the 2021 season, but just before the 2022 season began, he went on the injured list with a stress reaction in his right scapula. He didn't debut until August, and while his 3.08 ERA was good by most pitchers' standards, it was his worst mark since 2017.

One year earlier, Carlos Carrasco saw his Mets debut postponed until late July after tearing his hamstring during spring training. Even after returning, Cookie had a tough time, putting up an ugly 6.04 ERA in 12 starts.

We all remember Noah Syndergaard's Tommy John surgery just before Opening Day in 2020 that effectively ended his Mets career. Thor has bounced around the league in the years since, but he's never been the same.

These are just the tip of the Mets' spring training injury iceberg. Jose Quintana didn't make his Mets debut until late July last year after needing bone graft surgery in the spring. Marcus Stroman missed the beginning of the shortened 2020 season with a calf muscle tear, then opted out of the season altogether due to Covid. Jason Vargas broke his hand in 2018, and Zack Wheeler missed the entire 2015 season after needing Tommy John in spring training.

That's a solid decade of Mets fans having their hopes dashed before Opening Day. What did we do to deserve this? I don't know, but if anyone has any ideas on how to break this curse, just tell me a time and a place and I'll be there. In the meantime, I'll be spending the next five weeks hoping for no more Mets news.