Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
With the 2020 Major League Baseball season on hold indefinitely, Noah Syndergaard, the Mets, and their fans received news Tuesday that put a huge dent in their 2020 hopes -- and maybe their 2021 hopes as well.
Syndergaard, who had up to this point avoided a serious arm injury despite being one of the hardest throwers in the game, needs Tommy John surgery.
That surgery, which means the loss of Syndergaard for at least the entire 2020 season, will send ripple effects up and down the Mets' roster in 2020 and beyond and could have a huge impact on Syndergaard's personal future and his future with the Mets.
The news about Syndergaard landed differently than the news in late-2013 that then-wunderkind Matt Harvey would need surgery. That injury likely cost the Mets any chance to contend in 2014. The injury to Syndergaard likely won't cost the Mets their chance to contend in 2020 (if and when the season starts), but it has definitely made their task a hell of a lot harder.
What does this mean for the 2020 starting rotation?
For one, it means that the Mets now have one top of the rotation starter and not two. And in the NL East, which is arguably the best division in baseball, the drop-off from Jacob deGrom to Marcus Stroman to the No. 3, 4, and 5 starters could be felt in a very big way.
Fortunately, the Mets likely won't need to go outside the organization to replace Syndergaard. Instead, they can simply use both Steven Matz and Michael Wacha in the rotation instead of putting one of them in the bullpen.
But the Mets will now be relying even more on Rick Porcello to bounce back from a dismal 2019 season and for Wacha to stay healthy. And their in-house rotation options beyond the expected members of the rotation are not great.
What does this mean for the Mets' 2020 hopes?
While the loss of Syndergaard is a big one, it's one the Mets can overcome.
However, their margin for error just got much smaller. And Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia bouncing back from terrible 2019 seasons to help bridge the gap from the starters to the end of games just became even more important than it already was.
In the 2020 regular season, whenever it begins, the Mets should be able to hold their own with a still-solid rotation anchored by the best pitcher in baseball, a bullpen that should be much-improved, and a lineup that is expected to be strong and diverse. The loss of Syndergaard might be felt the most if the Mets reach the postseason, unless they deal for a top-of-the-rotation at some point before then.
How uncertain is Syndergaard's Mets future?
Whatever bad blood there was between the Mets and Syndergaard seemed to thaw a bit late last season, and Brodie Van Wagenen said before the offseason that he had no intention of trading Syndergaard -- who had been available before the 2019 season and again at the trade deadline.
Now, Syndergaard will likely be less than a season from free agency by the time he returns.
Before news of the surgery came out, it would've been wise for the Mets to explore what it would take to lock up Syndergaard -- one of the best pitchers in baseball from 2015 to 2018 -- long-term.
Doing so now could still make sense for both the Mets (who need rotation certainty beyond 2021) and Syndergaard, who will for now be betting on a bounceback in 2021 before a potentially big payday in free agency after the season
How could this impact 2021 and beyond?
As of now, the Mets can count on only deGrom and Matz to be members of their starting rotation in 2021.
Syndergaard is a question mark until he returns, and Stroman, Porcello, and Wacha are all set to be free agents after the 2020 season.
The Mets have a young offensive core that should allow them to contend for the next half-decade, but they're going to need to make some serious additions to the rotation between now and the start of the 2021 season if they hope to put themselves in the best position to succeed.
New York will likely have some help coming from the minors this season with David Peterson potentially ready to contribute at some point. And they can dream on arms like Matthew Allan and Josh Wolf, who could be ready in a few years.
But in order to get over the hump and win their first World Series title since 1986, the Mets -- without being able to bank on Syndergaard in 2020 or 2021 -- need to get aggressive as possible when it comes to filling the void at the top of the rotation both this season and next.