In an enormous blow to the Mets' 2020 season and potentially their 2021 season as well, right-handed pitcher Noah Syndergaard will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday due to a torn UCL in his right elbow, the team announced Tuesday.
"After experiencing discomfort in his elbow before Spring Training was suspended due to the pandemic, Noah and our health and performance department have been in constant contact," Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement. "Based on the persistence of his symptoms, Noah underwent a physical examination and MRI that revealed the ligament tear. A second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache confirmed the diagnosis and the recommendation for surgery. Noah is an incredibly hard worker and a tremendous talent. While this is unfortunate, we have no doubt that Noah will be able to return to full strength and continue to be an integral part of our Championship pursuits in the future."
Recovery from Tommy John surgery for pitchers is ordinarily 12-to-16 months, likely putting the earliest return for Syndergaard at Opening Day of the 2021 season.
SNY's Andy Martino reported that a "reasonable expectation" for when Syndergaard returns is Memorial Day of the 2021 season, which is his final season of arbitration before free agency.
Syndergaard had been expected to be the Mets' No. 2 starter behind Jacob deGrom.
The 27-year-old Syndergaard had a relatively down season in 2019 as he struggled to harness his slider, but said early on in spring training that he expected his slider of old to return in 2020. Now, that will have to wait.
As far as the Mets' starting rotation for 2020 is concerned, the likely scenario is that both Michael Wacha and Steven Matz will now join a rotation that is also expected to include deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Rick Porcello
It would behoove the Mets, who are expected to contend in the loaded NL East this season, to do everything in their power to trade for a top-of-the-rotation starter to fill the void left by Syndergaard.
However, doing so is easier said than done at the moment when you consider the indefinite delay to the 2020 season leading to uncerainty all around and the fact that most trades of that magnitude happen in the summer.
So for now, the Mets might simply have to ride this out.