It took one facial grimace from the New York Mets’ superhero-like pitcher to make him look mortal.
Noah Syndergaard, who was scratched from his scheduled start Thursday due to biceps tendinitis, returned to the hill on Sunday to face the Washington Nationals. “Thor” lasted just 1.1 innings, surrendering a season-high five earned runs which ballooned his ERA on the year from 1.73 to 3.29. Personal statistics became secondary to personal wellbeing when Syndergaard delivered a 2-1 pitch to Washington slugger Bryce Harper and immediately grabbed underneath his right armpit.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) April 30, 2017
“My lat!” Syndergaard can be seen telling his catcher, Rene Rivera, and skipper, Terry Collins. A wounded Syndergaard walked off the mound and into the trainer’s room; it was confirmed after the Mets’ embarrassing 23-5 loss on Sunday that their ace — whose preliminary diagnosis was a “possible lat strain” — pitcher will undergo an MRI at 7 a.m. in New York tomorrow.
After the Mets won on Friday night, Syndergaard spoke to reporters and said that he refused to undergo an MRI after he was scratched from his scheduled start a day earlier.
“I’m pretty in tune with my body,” said Syndergaard, via MLB.com. “That’s exactly why I refused to take the MRI. I knew there was nothing happening in there.”
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Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson both said on Sunday that they are unsure if Syndergaard’s latest ailment is related to his biceps issue. Alderson had said on Saturday that the team can not force Syndergaard — or anybody else — to undergo an MRI.
“I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,” he said.
A visibly dejected Collins spoke after Sunday’s loss and snapped when a reporter prefaced a question by stating the skipper “looked upset” after Syndergaard’s early exit. “You think?” he said. “What do you think?” However, Alderson took a more restrained approach, telling the media that he spoke to Syndergaard before he departed for New York and that the team trusted his word.
“Would the MRI have disclosed a lat issue or reaffirmed some concern about the bicep? We’ll never know,” Alderson said, via MLB.com. “We took him at face value, but he also threw a ‘pen and felt fine. On the basis of that input as well as his own comments, he was good to go. … The people who were with him throwing the bullpen had no misgivings at all about him making his start.”
The signs of struggle were apparent early when Syndergaard allowed five first-inning runs to the Nationals. Also, his blistering velocity on the fastball was visibly decreasing, especially when compared to his last start.
Noah Syndergaard’s last start vs first inning today. Notice the four seem fastball drop: pic.twitter.com/GvVqnJ1gKq
— MLB Statistics (@MLBRandomStats) April 30, 2017
Per Mike Puma of the New York Post, longtime Mets farmhand Rafael Montero — who started 2017 in the team’s bullpen before being demoted — is expected to take Syndergaard’s next turn in the rotation on Friday. If Syndergaard requires an extended absence, it will the latest blow to a Mets team decimated by injuries — losing arguably its most popular player.
Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring), Lucas Duda (hyperextended elbow), Steven Matz (elbow), and Seth Lugo (elbow) are all currently sidelined. Also, fellow starters Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey entered 2017 coming off either injured-shortened or missed seasons.
The Mets’ loss on Sunday was so lopsided, backup catcher Kevin Plawecki pitched the final two innings.
The Mets pitcher last inning pic.twitter.com/5f4yjjJcUu
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) April 30, 2017
A pitching depth once considered an asset is becoming a major liability for the Mets, and it’s only the end of April.
[Featured Image by Patrick Smith/Getty Images]