The New York Mets have been down several pitchers for a while, with the biggest absence being ace right hander Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard has been sidelined since April 30th, when he suffered a partial lat tear during a start against the Washington Nationals, and his progress on the rehab front has been slow. Mets’ pitching coach Dan Warthen indicated yesterday that Syndergaard should begin a throwing program within the next two weeks, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. The return of Syndergaard could be a major morale boost for the team as the season spirals out of control, but he figures to be at least a month away from rejoining the rotation. Warthen indicated that the Mets have at least discussed a way to get Syndergaard back earlier: by using him out of the bullpen.
According to Warthen, discussions about using Syndergaard out of the bullpen would be contingent upon the Mets’ record and needs at the time he is ready to return. Here’s a statement from Warthen on the possibility:
“If we decide we want to go get Syndergaard back earlier but use him as a one-inning guy, we’ll all talk about that.”
Simply put, this is a horrendous idea right up there with letting Syndergaard make that April 30th start without getting an MRI on his elbow. Syndergaard hasn’t pitched in relief outside of one game last season and Game 5 of the 2015 Division Series, so it’s not like he is used to pitching out of the bullpen. The Mets are also eight games under .500 and have an extremely slim chance of making the postseason, so there is no reason to rush their best pitcher back to work out of the bullpen. While Warthen did say the bullpen discussion would be based on the Mets’ record when Syndergaard is ready, but the fact that this discussion might take place is alarming.
The Mets are clearly in denial about the fact that their season is over, and using Syndergaard out of the bullpen makes no sense for a mediocre team with a 3.1% chance of reaching the postseason. The best course of action now is to simply let Syndergaard rehab as a starter and get back to 100%. Whether or not Syndergaard pitches again this season will make no difference in the perception of the 2017 season, which is clearly a disappointment. Messing with Syndergaard’s role in a lost season is moronic, but the Mets have shown their propensity for making questionable choices over the past few years. Hopefully common sense prevails in the end.