MLB

What does Syndegaard injury mean for Mets rotation and hopes in 2020?

The New York Mets being without an injured Noah Syndegaard is a big blow to their 2020 hopes.

Noah Syndegaard has struggled to stay healthy and consistently live up to his huge potential in recent seasons, but losing him for the 2020 season is still a big blow for the New York Mets and their hopes of competing in the wide-open National League East.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke the news that Syndegaard “has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow” and will undergo Tommy John surgery. The Mets later confirmed the news. The injury will reportedly put Syndegaard on the shelf for all of 2020 and likely into 2021 as well.

In a press release, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said that Syndegaard had started experiencing discomfort before spring training and received multiple opinions before settling on surgery.

“Noah is an incredibly hard worker and a tremendous talent,” Van Wagenen said. “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.”

The injury does, however, put a damper on the Mets’ present playoff pursuits.

While the season is currently on hold, the Mets were tipped by Baseball Prospectus‘ PECOTA projections to win the division. Now, they will have to find a way to overcome the defending NL East champion Atlanta Braves and the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals without one of their top arms.

The PECOTA projections had the Mets just one game ahead of the Nationals and all three teams within roughly five games of one another. In a division that tight, the knock-on affects of missing Syndegaard from the rotations could be critical for the Mets.

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The Mets rotation was projected to be led by Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, along with Syndegaard and Marcus Stroman. Steven Matz, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha were expected to compete for the final two spots.

The loss of Syndegaard likely moves Wacha into the starting rotation as the Mets’ fifth starter and locks those five in as the rotation for whenever the season begins.

Fangraphs projected Syndegaard as a four-win player. Wacha on the other hand has never had a season of 4 fWAR or more and is projected to be basically replacement level this year.

With a division so tight, four wins lost at one spot could easily be the difference between the pennant and missing the playoffs.

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo highlights 2017 first-round pick David Peterson, a lefty tipping 95 mph this spring and likely to start in AAA, as the closest to cracking the big-league rotation.

While there won’t be any competition for rotation spots whenever the season picks up, the Mets’ ability to effectively fill Syndegaard’s hole in the rotation, through Wacha or whoever comes in later, will be one of the most important plot lines to watch in the NL East.

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