NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard took another significant step forward in his rehab from Tommy John surgery Saturday, facing live hitters in an intrasquad game at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Fla. A talent evaluator on site clocked Syndergaard’s fastball at 97 mph.
“He looked really good, from what I saw,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas, who watched Syndergaard’s start on a live video feed from Citi Field.
Syndergaard threw all of his pitches in the one-inning outing, which marked his first time facing live hitters since surgery in March 2020. His final remaining obstacle before returning to the big leagues is to stretch out to a regular starter’s workload. That process will take at least six weeks, with Syndergaard ineligible to return from the injured list until May 31. Mets officials have targeted mid-June as a more realistic date for his return.
“All reports were very strong,” pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said. “Very encouraged by his outing today.”
Now 28 years old and eligible to become a free agent at the end of this season, Syndergaard has not pitched since September 2019. He holds a career 47-30 record with a 3.31 ERA and 775 strikeouts in 716 innings.
Also appearing in the intrasquad game was reliever Drew Smith, who has now faced live hitters multiple times as he works his way back from a bout of right shoulder soreness. Smith, who began the season on the 10-day IL, could return at any time. A bit further behind is Seth Lugo, who has thrown two bullpen sessions in his recovery from right elbow surgery, but he has yet to face hitters.
Carrasco timeline clearer
Separately in Florida, Carlos Carrasco threw another four innings Saturday as he works his way back from a torn right hamstring. That marks consecutive four-inning rehab outings for Carrasco, whom Rojas said could make his Mets debut around the second week of May.
The Mets don’t need a fifth starter again until May 4, but it does not appear that Carrasco will be ready to pitch by that time. Instead, the Mets can recall either Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto to take that spot.
Betances out until June
Prior to Saturday’s game against the Nationals, the Mets transferred Dellin Betances to the 60-day injured list despite not needing the 40-man roster spot. The move ensures that Betances, who is dealing with a right shoulder impingement, will remain sidelined until mid-June.
“They’re just going to continue to work strengthening the shoulder,” Mets general manager Zack Scott said Saturday. “Obviously the shoulder’s an area that you always have to be mindful that we’re doing all the right things. We have a really good program set up. I’ve talked to our performance staff and we feel like we have a good plan in place, but he’s still in the strengthening portion of that, so it’s hard to really project out a timetable.”
Betances has produced a 7.82 ERA since joining the Mets on a two-year contract before the 2020 season.