The best pitcher in baseball right now is New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner and current -125 favorite at William Hill Sportsbook to win a third in 2021. DeGrom, incidentally, is next scheduled to pitch in the ESPN Sunday night game vs. Atlanta. However, it wasn't all that long ago that fellow right-hander Noah Syndergaard looked like the future ace of the Mets. Alas, after another injury setback it's very possible that "Thor" has pitched his final game for the franchise.
Syndergaard had Tommy John surgery in March 2020 and missed that entire season. He was on track to return to the injury-ravaged Mets by mid-June this year and looked very good last week in his first rehab start for Class A St. Lucie, allowing one hit with five strikeouts while throwing 44 pitches.
On Tuesday, Syndergaard was again pitching for St. Lucie (the Mets' spring training home) and the franchise was hoping to move up him to Triple-A Syracuse after, but Syndergaard left after just one inning with soreness in that surgically-repaired elbow. Reportedly, his first pitch Tuesday was a four-seam fastball that registered 95.3 mph, but then his velocity dipped and dipped to where his final pitches were in the mid-80s.
An MRI Wednesday revealed some inflammation but at least no new structural damage to the ulnar collateral ligament. Syndergaard has been shut down for six weeks, which means he won't even pick up a ball again until around the All-Star break.
"We pray that he can pitch for us this year," said embattled manager Luis Rojas, who wouldn't say whether the Mets are confident he will pitch in the majors. "I think this is the right approach, being preventive rather than having anything major."
Keep in mind that Syndergaard is an unrestricted free agent this winter, so he's not going to risk further injury and cost himself millions of dollars.
The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder is 47-30 in his five big-league seasons with a 3.31 ERA and 775 strikeouts in 716 innings. His best season and lone time being named an All-Star was in 2016 when he was 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 183.2 innings. His ERA rose every season after, although not hugely so until 2019 when Syndergaard was 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 197.2 innings.
Many Mets fans already are comparing Syndergaard to Matt Harvey, another former great right-hander for the team whose career was ruined by medical issues and perhaps questionable decisions by the franchise.
Yet another pitcher on whom the Mets were relying this season, Carlos Carrasco, has been sidelined since spring training after tearing his right hamstring. He came over in the Francisco Lindor trade but isn't expected back before late-June or early-July, according to acting general manager Zack Scott.
Despite the issues with Syndergaard, Carrasco and essentially half the everyday lineup on the injured list, the Mets are -105 favorites at William Hill Sportsbook to win the NL East with the Braves (+220), Phillies (+500) and Nationals (+1400) underachieving.
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