NEW YORK (AP) — Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard became the latest big-name pitcher to need Tommy John surgery, joining the Yankees’ Luis Severino and Boston’s Chris Sale.
New York said Tuesday that Syndergaard needs reconstruction of his ulnar collateral ligament and will miss the season that’s been put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak. Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek will operate on the right-hander on Thursday.
“After experiencing discomfort in his elbow before spring training was suspended due to the pandemic, Noah and our health and performance department have been in constant contact,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement. “Based on the persistence of his symptoms, Noah underwent a physical examination and MRI that revealed the ligament tear.”
Syndergaard, the hardest-throwing starting pitcher in the major leagues last season, received a second opinion from Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
“While this is unfortunate, we have no doubt that Noah will be able to return to full strength and continue to be an integral part of our championship pursuits in the future,” said Van Wagenen, Syndergaard’s former agent.
Altchek operated Feb. 25 on the right-handed Severino. The Red Sox said last Thursday that Sale, their hard-throwing left-handed ace, will have Tommy John surgery.
Since Major League Baseball announced on March 12 that opening day will be delayed because of the virus, San Francisco right-hander Tyler Beede and San Diego right-handed reliever Andrés Muñoz also were told they needed the reconstruction procedure.
Openers have been pushed back until mid-May at the earliest. Tommy John surgery usually requires a recuperation period of 12-18 months.
Nicknamed Thor, Syndergaard was projected as the No. 2 starter in a strong rotation behind two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom. New York has for now sufficient starters to make up for Syndergaard’s absence, with Marcus Stroman, Michael Wacha, Rick Porcello and Steven Matz.
Syndergaard turns 28 in August and currently is eligible to become a free agent after the 2021 season. He agreed in January to a $9.7 million, one-year contract.
Syndergaard was acquired in the December 2012 trade that sent NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto. An All-Star in 2016 when he went 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA, Syndergaard has an ERA that has climbed to 2.97 in 2017, 3.05 in 2018 and 4.28 last year, when he was 10-8 in 32 starts.
He averaged 98.1 mph for his four-seam fastball last season, tops among qualified pitchers and just ahead of Gerrit Cole (97.4) and deGrom (97.2).
Syndergaard made three spring training starts, the last on March 8. He pitched a total of eight innings and allowed four runs — three earned — and five hits with 11 strikeouts and no walks.
This is his fourth straight injury-hampered season. He didn’t pitch between April 30 and Sept. 23 in 2017 because of a partially torn right latissimus dorsi muscle; was sidelined between May 25 and July 13 in 2018 because of a strained ligament in his right index finger; and was out between June 15-30 last year with a strained right hamstring. He also missed a start in 2018 because of hand, foot and mouth disease.
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