QUEENS, NEW YORK — Heading into the 2016 MLB season, defending National League champion, New York Mets, came into the season with high expectations after coming off of their first World Series appearance in 15 years. The club had assembled what we thought was one of the most fearsome and efficient pitching trios in years. “The Dark Knight” Matt Harvey, coming fresh off of Tommy John Surgery posting a 2.71 ERA, against doctors orders 189.1 IP (doctor recommended 180 IP) and 188 SO. The hard, fireball throwing “Thor” Noah Syndergaard, posting a 3.24 ERA, 150 IP and 166 SO for an incredible rookie year. And the “DeGrominator” Jacob deGrom, posting a 2.61 ERA, 191 IP and 205 SO for the year. All three combing for a total ERA of 2.80. The Mets advanced to the postseason to play an emotional series in the NLDS against the Dodgers to a total sweep of the National League favorite Chicago Cubs. All only to suffer a heartbreaking loss in five games to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.
The Mets had come into 2016 with high expectations and were favorites to head back into the postseason. But very rarely do these predictions ever see fruition. While the New York Mets are far from collapsing and have been on the heels of the NL East leading Washington Nationals all year, the recent landing of Matt Harvey on the DL and recent discoveries of bone spurs in Cy Young award contending Noah Syndergaard and rookie sensation Steven Matz put a dark cloud looming on the horizon for the Mets.
With Matt Harvey headed to the DL and diagnosed with symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome he will need either season-ending surgery or a nerve-block injection.
“My shoulder’s dead, my arm’s dead, there’s no energy there, I couldn’t feel the ball,” Harvey said after his last start, according to Mets skipper Terry Collins. Harvey, by far having the worst year of his career so far, is sporting a 4-10 record, 4.86 ERA with 76 strikeouts over 92.2 innings pitched.
Should he opt out of the surgery with a four months of recovery time and go with the injection, would he be able to play through the pain? One can only think back to the legendary Sandy Koufax losing use of his arm after a start, bathing his arm in ice every day, and retiring during the prime of his career lest he lose total use of his arm due to an extreme workload.
Not jumping the gun in any stretch, but the human arm should not be able to do what Major League pitchers do. Regardless of no official diagnosis yet for Harvey, surgery, albeit season-ending surgery, just seems like the most practical and long term choice. These ace caliber arms are the future of the club, and should be treated and cared for as such.
Coming off the worst start of his year so far, the Mets had announced that Syndergaard had bone spurs in his elbow. Syndergaard claiming to feel no pain in his shoulder and saying “As long as I’m staying on my anti-inflammatories and my mechanics are on point, I’m able to go out there every five days and compete.” However Mets GM, Sandy Alderson, told ESPN that 90 percent of pitchers in the major leagues have a comparable injury to Syndergaard’s. Rookie sensation, Steven Matz, though, is another story. Although announcing that bone spurs were also in his elbow, it has been determined that Matz will eventually need surgery on his elbow with a recovery time of around 3 months. Hopeful the surgery can wait until after the season. As we approach the All Star Break, the Mets are 4 games out of first place behind the Nats. The Mets are very much alive and competing even among the almost comical slew of injuries they have acquired and the recent team wide batting slump. Sitting at 13th place in the National League, the Mets, as a team, are at a .239 batting average and sitting 3rd in the NL as team with 115 home runs. They are a team that hits the ball hard and fight tooth and nail for every win.
We can finally start talking playoffs after the All Star Break. While the “issues” of Syndergaard and Matz continue, they are still having an incredible year. Matz so far 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA and Syndergaard 9-3 with a 2.41 ERA, having a Cy Young Caliber season. Imagine the damage those two could do while 100% healthy throughout the year? Do the Mets risk another Matt Harvey situation by overworking those two? Or should they find themselves not in playoff contention come early September and plan for next season, prepare for next year and prepare for the long term future of the club? And while the Mets are hardly in any position to worry with the loss of Harvey, Syndergaard still has the most terrifying fastball in the game, easily hitting triple digits and an unseemly slider that sits in the low 90’s. deGrom is still posting a 2.61 ERA and a bright cornerstone for the Mets. The seemingly immortal Bartolo Colon, sporting a 7-4 record and 2.87 ERA. Logan Verrett is expected to take Harvey’s place at a 4.01 ERA against the Nats this Saturday. Zack Wheeler, while hitting a bump during his recovery from Tommy John Surgery, is recovering nicely and has large shoes to fill. There is no reason that he cannot step up to the plate and fill in for Harvey to allow the Mets to pursue another National League pennant.
The Mets are way overdue for a long term winning team and are on the verge of a potential dynasty to emerge. The front office must tread warily and treat these star players carefully. Heaven forbid the Mets go another 15 years with no World Series appearance or 9 years with no playoff appearance. We are on the cusp of an elite Mets team and need to do whatever it takes to keep the team as such for years to come.
Follow @ACAllAmericans for quality and up-to-date sports reporting.