Fantasy Baseball 2018: Can you safely draft Noah Syndergaard?

After missing five months with an injury and pitching just 30 innings, can you confidently draft Noah Syndergaard in 2018?

The New York Mets haven’t had the best of luck over the last couple of years. With multiple injuries on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to be a competitive team. The one that hurt most for the Mets last season was the loss of ace pitcher Noah Syndergaard. Can you safely draft him as your SP1 this season?

Syndergaard pitched just 30.1 innings last season. After making five starts in April, he landed on the 60-day DL with a partial tear of his right lat muscle. He lasted just 1.1 innings in his last start before being pulled. In his four full games, he posted a 1.73 ERA, 0.885 WHIP, 30 strikeouts and zero walks.

He didn’t return until Sept. 23 and made just two appearances. Syndergaard pitched a combined three innings, 31 pitches, with a 0.00 ERA and 0.66 WHIP. There wasn’t just to digest from these two games as the Mets were very far away from a playoff berth but it was nice to see him back on the mound.

With two full seasons prior, it’s hard to label Syndergaard injury prone. In 2016, he finished eighth in the Cy Young and 19th on the MVP voting. As a result, he was the fifth starting pitcher drafted in 2017. The track record was there for a third-straight top-10 season but who would have predicted an injury?

The top of my starting pitcher rankings features the expected four names. After that, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner and Zack Greinke round out my top seven. Syndergaard is my No. 8 starting pitcher.

Obviously, I think the seven pitchers ahead of him provide more to your fantasy team and they should be drafted as such. However, that doesn’t mean Syndergaard is at the bottom of the barrel.

He is still capable of 200-plus strikeouts and limited walks and home runs over 30 starts. His 10.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 were atop the list in 2016. Even in his shortened season, his ground ball, fly ball and line drive rates would have been career bests. Again, small sample size but we get a taste of what could have been.

Unless there is another freak injury, I don’t think Syndergaard will have any trouble pitching like the top-10 pitcher he is in 2018.

I would have more confidence drafting Syndergaard as my SP2 in a standard league but the draft board won’t play out that way. If you want him, you need to draft him before the end of Round 4. If you decide to pass on Syndergaard, you can look at guys like Justin Verlander, Chris Archer or even Luis Severino.

Regardless, Syndergaard will have a bounce-back season and should not be passed up in any drafts. You can always draft a good supporting cast for backup if necessary, but it won’t be.