Noah Syndergaard Return Potential Plus for Mets

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The New York Mets got a rare boost Tuesday, as Noah Syndergaard made his long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery. “Thor” saw his first regular-season action since 2019, throwing a scoreless inning with two strikeouts against the Miami Marlins. The Mets eventually won the second leg of the doubleheader, 2-1. For Syndergaard, it is undoubtedly a fantastic development that he made it back after almost two years and several setbacks. For the Mets, it likely carries a bittersweet feeling. Syndergaard’s return came after the Mets’ elimination from playoff contention. Had he made it back sooner, he may have been able to help stave off their late-season collapse. Also, Tuesday could be the last time Thor pitches in a Mets uniform, as he enters free agency this offseason. If the Mets are confident Syndergaard can pitch like he has when healthy, it would serve them well to re-sign him.

Noah Syndergaard Returns

Tuesday’s one-inning start capped a long road back for Syndergaard, who has been plagued by various injuries throughout his career. In 2019, he proved durable, making 32 starts and going 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA. In March 2020, however, he went down with a torn UCL, requiring Tommy John surgery. Syndergaard was expected back sometime earlier in 2021 but encountered multiple setbacks. In late May, he experienced elbow inflammation, requiring a lengthy shutdown from his rehab. Then, in late August, he was scratched from a rehab start after testing positive for COVID-19.

After some doubt about whether he’d appear in a game this season, Syndergaard finally toed the rubber in the season’s dying days. The plan was to only pitch him for one inning, and manager Luis Rojas stuck to that plan. In his brief audition for next season, Thor did not disappoint. He struck out both Miguel Rojas and Jazz Chisholm swinging before retiring Bryan De La Cruz on a sharp grounder to third. After the game, which the Mets won on a walk-off fielder’s choice by James McCann, Syndergaard spoke about his tough journey back. “It was definitely a crazy journey, like Murphy’s Law. Anything [bad] that could’ve happened, did happen,” he said. “It seemed like…I wasn’t gonna make it back this year. It felt good to get back out there and compete, even though it was only one inning. It felt amazing.”

Thor’s Future Uncertain

The return of Noah Syndergaard after a long absence, at almost any other time, would be joyous news for the Mets and their fans. Despite the good news on his recovery, though, his future with the Mets is not set in stone. Tuesday was likely Syndergaard’s only appearance of the year, and he becomes a free agent this offseason. Syndergaard, for his part, recently expressed confidence that he and the Mets would come to terms on a deal for next year. However, the Mets’ intentions for him this offseason remain unclear.

Will New York push to re-sign Syndergaard despite uncertainty about his health and whether he can pitch at the level he once did? Or will another team take a gamble on him, and perhaps even sweeten the pot by offering him a multi-year deal? Where he ends up will largely depend on the Mets’ eagerness (or lack thereof) to keep him. Tuesday’s audition, despite the small sample size, was undoubtedly a positive step forward in Syndergaard’s recovery and career. He provided some hope that he may be able to return to form. At only 29 years of age, he still has time to become even better. If there is a superior version of Thor than what he has shown so far, the Mets should certainly want him to be part of their future.

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Players Mentioned:

Noah Syndergaard, Miguel Rojas, Jazz Chisholm, Bryan De La Cruz, James McCann