ATLANTA -- During the middle innings of an otherwise sunny 4-3 Mets win over the Royals on Wednesday at Citi Field, another worry crept into the consciousness of the Mets. Noah Syndergaard, the team's most dominant first-half pitcher and the anchor of an injury-riddled team, departed after six innings due
ATLANTA -- During the middle innings of an otherwise sunny 4-3 Mets win over the Royals on Wednesday at Citi Field, another worry crept into the consciousness of the Mets. Noah Syndergaard, the team's most dominant first-half pitcher and the anchor of an injury-riddled team, departed after six innings due to elbow discomfort.
The Mets rushed Syndergaard to the hospital for tests, which revealed a best-case scenario: no structural damage. Team orthopedist Dr. David Altchek prescribed Syndergaard with anti-inflammatory medication, and the right-hander celebrated his relatively clean bill of health with a cheery Instagram post.
The Mets have not, however, committed to using Syndergaard in his next scheduled start Monday in Washington. For now, he will fly on Thursday to rejoin his teammates in Atlanta.
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This was not Syndergaard's first elbow scare. Earlier this season, Syndergaard quietly visited Altchek for an examination after feeling discomfort during his worst start of the year, a May 1 loss to the Giants. Syndergaard came away from that outing with a clean bill of health, and did not miss a start. The right-hander also saw the start of his 2015 season delayed due to forearm tightness, a condition is often related to elbow issues. He has undergone multiple MRIs on his elbow over the past three years.
But so far, Syndergaard has come away without any major damage to the joint. Though he did not feature his best swing-and-miss stuff of the season on Wednesday, generating merely four strikeouts in six innings against the Royals, Syndergaard still averaged over 99 mph with his four-seam fastball and 91 mph with his slider. The Royals did not record a hit that left the infield until the fourth inning, and did not score until Cheslor Cuthbert homered with one out in the fifth. Syndergaard wound up allowing three runs in total, throwing 91 pitches while notching his eighth win.
Should Syndergaard need to miss a rotation turn, the Mets have two viable fill-ins on the active roster in Logan Verrett and Sean Gilmartin. Syndergaard's next start is scheduled for Monday in Washington; the Mets flipped him and Bartolo Colon this week in part so that Syndergaard could face the first-place Nationals. But in explaining that decision, manager Terry Collins said he also wanted to give Syndergaard extra rest after throwing a career-high 115 pitches in his prior start against the Pirates.
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Overall this season, Syndergaard is 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA, 110 strikeouts and 12 walks in 91 innings. He ranks fifth in the Majors in strikeout rate, and second in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Of the Mets' five primary starting pitchers younger than 30 years old, including rehabbing right-hander Zack Wheeler, Syndergaard is also the only one never to undergo Tommy John elbow ligament-replacement surgery, a fact of which he is well aware. Syndergaard is militant about his workout and nutrition regimens, believing they will help him avoid a surgery that has befallen so many other young, hard-throwing star pitchers.
"I've thought about it quite a bit," Syndergaard said this spring. "But I trust myself to put my body in the right situations to be able to perform at a healthy level."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.