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Mets' Noah Syndergaard Shut Down for 6 Weeks After Elbow Inflammation Injury

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 27, 2021

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 08: Noah Syndergaard #34 of the New York Mets in action against the Houston Astros during a spring training baseball game at Clover Park on March 8, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets defeated the Astros 3-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard's return from Tommy John surgery hit a snag Thursday.

While there is no structural damage, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reported that Syndergaard is suffering from inflammation in his throwing elbow and will be shut down for six weeks.

The right-hander was trending toward returning to the Mets rotation, but he left his second minor league rehab start after the first inning Tuesday because of right elbow soreness.

The 28-year-old hurler missed the entire 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in March 2020.

Known by the nickname Thor, the 6'6", 242-pound Syndergaard was considered one of the most dominant young pitchers in the game early in his career.

He finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2015 and followed that up with his first and only All-Star season to date in 2016. The Texas native went 14-9 with a career-best 2.60 ERA that season. He also posted a 1.15 WHIP and struck out a career-high 218 batters in 183.2 innings.

A torn lat muscle limited Syndergaard to seven starts the following season. He made 25 starts in 2018, going 13-4 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 155 strikeouts in 154.1 innings.

Syndergaard was fully healthy in 2019, making a career-high 32 starts, but his other numbers were down. He went just 10-8 with a career-worst 4.28 ERA while also posting a 1.23 WHIP and 202 strikeouts over 197.2 innings.

Given the fact that Syndergaard looked somewhat ordinary in 2019 and then missed all of 2020, there are some questions regarding whether the 2010 first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays will be able to return to an elite level.

Elbow soreness more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery is concerning, especially since it adversely impacted his velocity during Tuesday's start for Class A St. Lucie.

Jarrett Seidler of Baseball Prospectus tweeted a breakdown of Syndergaard's pitches in that game and suggested some of the pitches that registered as changeups were actually fastballs with reduced velocity due to the elbow issues:

Jarrett Seidler @jaseidler

A little bird sent me Syndergaard’s Trackman from the inning he did pitch and well I don’t think those “changeups” at the end were changes pic.twitter.com/XgGCNaLKF1

The prospect of not getting Syndergaard back until August or perhaps not even at all this season is worrisome for a Mets team that has been up and down through their first 42 games.

New York is in first place in the NL East, but it owns a record of just 22-20. Only three games separate the Mets from the last-place Washington Nationals, meaning it is still anyone's division.

Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker have done an excellent job at the top of the rotation for New York this season. However, David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi have largely struggled.

Syndergaard would go a long way toward adding depth to the rotation, but there is now a great deal of uncertainty regarding when he will be able to return to the majors.