On Saturday afternoon, the New York Mets announced Noah Syndergaard won’t be able to throw for six weeks after tearing his lat in his last start against the Washington Nationals.
At 6.5 games back in the NL East, this news could be devastating to the New York Mets‘ playoff hopes. The Washington Post reports that the club currently doesn’t know when Noah Syndergaard could return, but all speculation points to it being after the All-Star break.
Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson told the New York Postit’s “going to be much later in the season.” Alderson also added that Syndergaard could be put on the 60-day disabled list.
Why the lengthy timetable?
It’s not unreasonable for a pitcher who can mix in some off-speed pitches to come back from a torn lat in six weeks. However, Syndergaard’s pitches hardly register below 90 MPH.
Syndergaard has the highest average fastball velocity among starting pitchers this season (98.7), and has owned the distinction since 2015. Because of this, his timetable is going to be extended to account for his power-pitching approach.
All reports suggest Syndergaard won’t be able to throw for six weeks. After that, he’ll need at least a few more to get back into game shape because he doesn’t feature a curveball.
How does this affect the season?
According to some preseason analysis, the Mets had a simple path to success this season: Keep the starting five healthy. Unfortunately, losing Syndergaard means more work for the other starters and the bullpen alike.
The Mets’ bullpen has been average so far in 2017, according to Fangraphs rankings. The group has pitched 106 innings so far, fifth most in the league, and recorded a 4.73 ERA collectively. They leave 75 percent of runners on base, but are giving up 1.35 HR/9 in the process.
Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins have provided manager Terry Collins some much needed stability this season. However, limiting the bullpen will ultimately tax a starting rotation that needs to stay healthy if this club is going to play in the postseason.
Reed has recorded a 11.81 K/9 in 11 innings of work so far this season. He leads the team in saves with four and is second in holds with three. Blevins leads the club with a 13.09 K/9 in 11 innings pitched, recording a 0.82 ERA as well.
Accompanying Blevins and Reed into the late innings with Jeurys Familia gives the Mets a formidable three-headed monster. However, they need to be able to get to the monster with the lead.
This season, the 24-year-old Syndergaard is 1-2 with a 3.29 ERA in just five starts. He’s second on the team in strikeouts with 32, and leads Mets pitchers in FIP (1.02) and K/BB (16.00).
The Nationals are currently running away with the division, winning 14 of 20 intra-divisional contests. Without Syndergaard in the rotation, chances are the Mets won’t be able to make up much ground without some help from around the league.