With Syndergaard Injury, Should Mets Soon Waive White Flag on 2017?

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 1, 2017 5:42 PM UTC

Monday, May. 1, 2017 5:42 PM UTC

The New York Mets were considered a World Series contender entering this season if they could stay healthy. Already, that’s not the case and it might be time for the team to start thinking about 2018 sooner rather than later.

I don’t know what the worst on-field day has been for the New York Mets franchise this century, but I would imagine that Sunday ranks right up there. New York started ace right-hander and one of the NL Cy Young betting favorites, Noah Syndergaard, in the series finale at NL East rival Washington. It was the first start for “Thor” since having his previous scheduled outing scratched due to biceps and shoulder discomfort. The Mets wanted Syndergaard to get an MRI following that but he declined to have one after throwing a bullpen session. That’s unusual to decline one, but the team can’t make him do it.

Syndergaard is looking foolish now because Sunday he had to leave in the bottom of the second inning with pain in his side. Syndergaard had allowed five runs on five hits in the first inning during a 23-5 Nationals win. On Monday, the Mets said Syndergaard was out indefinitely with a partial tear of his right lat muscle. Syndergaard is 1-2 with a 3.29 ERA in five starts this season, with that ERA a bit skewed because of Sunday’s outing. He had a 1.73 ERA, 30 strikeouts and zero walks through four starts before Sunday.

This is nothing short of a devastating blow to the Mets as Syndergaard has a lifetime 2.92 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 rate. He’s easily one of the 5-10 pitchers in baseball and was projected by ZiPS to have a WAR in 2017 of 5.0.

Just look at how bad the Giants are without their injured ace, Madison Bumgarner. Rafael Montero likely takes Syndergaard’s rotation spot. In 6.2 innings with the Mets in 2017, he has allowed 16 hits and eight walks to go with a 9.45 ERA. Sean Gilmartin, currently in the bullpen, could also get a chance.

So how long might Syndergaard be out? When fellow Mets pitcher Steven Matz suffered a similar lat injury in late 2015, he missed roughly two months. Syndergaard joins Matz and Seth Lugo on the DL among pitchers. Early June is an optimistic timetable for either of those two.

The Mets also are without their most important hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, due a strained hamstring. Cespedes might be back in about 10 days or so, but it’s the second time he has had a hamstring problem already in 2017. It’s the second straight season Cespedes has suffered a leg injury, rested, tried to come back, gotten injured again and had to go on the DL.

The Mets are last in the NL East entering this week and have the third-worst run differential in the National League. Catching the Washington Nationals in the division already seems like a long shot. New York is +600 on BetOnline MLB odds there with Washington at -600.

In each of the last two seasons, all three of the NL division winners held at least a share of the division lead on May 1.  Since 1996, 14 of the 21 World Series winners led their divisions entering May 1. The Nats are +750 on those MLB odds with the Mets at +1600.

If Syndergaard is indeed out two months and the Mets are still in the division cellar by Memorial Day, it’s likely that GM Sandy Alderson will consider a fire sale. It’s no secret the team would love to trade outfielder Jay Bruce, among a few others.

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