The New York Mets announced today that Noah Syndergaard will have ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery, also known as “Tommy John surgery,” on his right elbow after tearing the UCL of his throwing arm.
The surgery is scheduled for Thursday, March 26, which was supposed to be Opening Day at Citi Field.
Syndergaard experienced discomfort in his elbow before spring training was suspended due to COVID-19, Brodie Van Wagenen, executive vice president and general manager of the Mets, said in a statement.
“Based on the persistence of his symptoms, Noah underwent a physical examination and MRI that revealed a ligament tear,” he said.
Although the news of the injury and impending surgery are a downer for the Mets organization and fans alike, there is still no date scheduled to kickoff the 2020 MLB season. His surgery, which will be done by David Altchek, M.D., Mets medical director, is scheduled for the end of the week. That means the one-time All-Star is eyeing April 2021 as his target return date.
As it stands, the season will be cut short, with the MLB season opener initially set for March 26 being postponed due to the health pandemic. And there is no timetable in place for when the league will officially start. The sooner Syndergaard can get healthy, the better.
Mets fans can breathe knowing that, despite Syndergaard needing this surgery, which many pitchers inevitably succumb to, he will miss less games than usual and could be healthy by a month or 2 into the 2021 campaign.
On the negative side, the Mets often tout its strong starting rotation, with Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard as a dynamic, one-two punch. Syndergaard being injured leaves a gap in the No. 2 spot. Where typically it would be deGrom, Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, and Rick Porcello (or Porcello at 4, Matz at 5), without Syndergaard, each player would move up one spot and Michael Wacha would slide into the No. 5 slot.
Either way, Syndergaard, who will earn $9.7 million as an arbitration-eligible player in 2020, will go through arbitration once more in 2021 before qualifying for free agency after that season. His 2020 and 2021 seasons could have led to massive deals, which likely won’t come to be due to the severity of the injury and lack of time he will have to prove himself.
He remains one of the top pitchers in the league, despite the 27-year-old only boasting a 4.28 ERA in 2019 over 197.2 innings pitched. Syndergaard maintains speed with ease, generally throwing in the upper-90s and occasionally hitting the 101 MPH mark.
Throwing at the high speeds he hits consistently, Syndergaard always knew this injury could come at any time.
“Anything can happen,” Syndergaard said in an interview in March 2016. “You try to prevent it as much as possible, but at the same time, you’re not always in control. Some guys go through their entire careers without having any problems.”
Although Syndergaard reported discomfort in his elbow, he played three Grapefruit League games in the spring and appeared healthy. Over eight innings, he allowed four runs (three earned), and struck out 11 without conceding a walk.
The RHP joins a slew of other big-name pitchers who announced they would be undergoing Tommy John surgery this spring, including Chris Sale (Red Sox), Luis Severino (Yankees), Tyler Beede (Giants), Andres Munoz (Padres), and Joey Wentz (Tigers).
Photo: (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)