Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
If you're a Mets fan looking for context to help process the news that Noah Syndergaard needs Tommy John surgery, consider this: The season that Syndergaard will miss will be shorter -- and weirder -- than just about any other in history.
It's the same silver lining that the Yankees stumbled into with Luis Severino, whose elbow also needed surgical reconstruction this spring.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no one knows when baseball will return, or how long the season will be. According to major league sources, MLB is determined to salvage some sort of baseball in 2020, and is still figuring out how that will look.
A significantly shortened season and expanded postseason are both possibilities, perhaps likelihoods. The primary thing to understand is that while MLB and the Players' Association are discussing these ideas, they are guessing along with the rest of the world about when any of us can return to our lives.
All of that adds up to the best possible time for the Mets to lose Syndergaard and the Yankees to lose Severino (and for that matter, for the Red Sox to lose Chris Sale).
A pitcher undergoing Tommy John surgery this spring will likely miss fewer games than if he'd had the procedure at any other time in history. And the team losing that pitcher will need to fill fewer starts than ever before.
Not only that, but an expanded playoff field this year, which could help teams replace some of the revenue and attendance lost because of the pandemic, would create an easier path to the postseason.
It's impossible to predict how anything will play out this season, including the impact on the Mets of Syndergaard's surgery.
As far as his future with the team, that is also uncertain. According to sources, the Mets hope to have Syndergaard back around Memorial Day next year, consistent with the typical 14-month period between surgery and MLB game action.
That would leave him with about four months of regular season games before free agency. The Mets have shown no inclination to offer Sydergaard a contract extension, but they did pull him off the trade market at the end of last season.
Following aggressive efforts to shop Syndergaard both last December and again at the July trade deadline, GM Brodie Van Wagenen went out of his way last fall to say that he was no longer willing to move the pitcher.
That heralded a bit of a new beginning for player and team. The Mets had recommitted to making Syndergaard a key member of their rotation behind ace Jacob deGrom, and dedicated themselves to helping him sustain the potential he flashed in the 2015 postseason.
They did that with an eye on contending for a championship in 2020 and 2021. It's anyone's guess what happens beyond that with the Mets and Syndergaard, but a breakup in free agency has seemed inevitable for more than a year.
If this spring has taught us anything, it's that we shouldn't go too far trying to predict the future. Who knows what will happen with Syndergaard in two years?
What we do know today is that the loss of Syndergaard is a bummer for the Mets, just like the loss of Severino is a bummer for the Yankees -- but slightly less of a bummer than it would be in a world without social distancing.
Weird times indeed.