When the Mets opened Spring Training, Noah Syndergaard looked like a changed man. The once tall-lanky pitcher was now living up to his nickname “Thor” when he checked in at 242 pounds, having added 17 pounds of muscle during the off-season.
When asked by reporters what he did differently last off-season, Syndergaard said he bulked up by eating a “bowl of doom.”
Two-and-a half months later, Syndergaard has served up a “bowl of doom” for the Mets when he left Sunday’s 23-5 smack-down at the hands of the Washington Nationals, clutching his side after a pitch in the bottom of the second inning. When Syndergaard grabbed the right side of his chest, underneath his shoulder in obvious pain, there was no question he was done for the day.
What’s most disturbing is the injury comes just days after he refused to have an MRI done after he felt discomfort in his biceps muscle on Thursday that led to Matt Harvey making the spot start.
Now, Syndergaard will have an MRI today to determine the severity of the injury. While “Thor” won’t get banished to Planet Hulk, he is likely heading for some form of a disabled list stint. How long that stint will be will be determined upon the severity of the injury.
When asked about the MRI rebuff, Syndergaard last week said he knew his “body best.” And while Sandy Alderson said it was unusual for a player to refuse such a procedure, the Mets weren’t going to force Syndergaard to take the test. Now he may very well have jeopardized both his season and the Mets’ by one poor decision.
The fact that Syndergaard gained all that weight in order to “throw harder” will haunt the right-hander if he is on the DL for a long time.
Pitchers are delicate people. Even the Mets know that, considering the kid gloves approach they took on innings limits on their Syndergaard, Havey and Jacob deGrom in years past.
When it comes to a pitcher, it should be simple, the focus should always been on long-term health, not power. Syndergaard failed to grasp that because he bought into the pressure of modern day baseball where people pay way too much attention to velocity and not enough time on the art of craft.
Bottom line is flexibility in their arm is important. The tendons, muscles and ligaments that make up the pitcher’s arm need to be able to perform properly and without added stress. If anything changes in that make-up an injury can happen.
When he checked into Spring Training, you almost got the sense that the Mets were surprised how much he bulked up. Syndergaard insisted he would be fine and would be stronger than ever. The Mets went with it.
Here lay the biggest problem for the Mets: lack of communication.
The Mets failed to communicate with Syndgeraard in the off-season when it came to his workouts. And they clearly are failing to communicate with him now.
Lack of communication isn’t new to the Mets this season. They should have disabled Yoenis Cespedes after his initial hamstring injury, but refused to disable him, and played him anyway. Now he’s on the disabled list with a worse injury to the muscle.
The same day Cespedes went down was also the same game Syndergaard skipped his start because of the biceps injury. The Mets instead started Harvey who gave up six runs on the afternoon. When asked after the game if the “Dark Knight” was ready to go, Mets Manager Terry Collins said ‘yes’ he was. When Harvey was asked about it, he admitted he wasn’t prepared.
The Mets biggest issue isn’t just hitting with runners in scoring position. It isn’t just the injuries. It isn’t turning the season around and catching the Wild Card.
The biggest issue facing the Mets is their inability to diagnose these injuries properly and communicate effectively with their players. For that reason, and that reason alone, the responsibility of Syndergaard’s injury falls on Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins. If this keeps up, they’ll pay dearly.