ATLANTA -- The stat lines never mattered much to Noah Syndergaard, considering the Mets were out of contention by the time he finally made it back from Tommy John surgery in late September. Instead, what Syndergaard wanted to prove in making two starts down the stretch was that he was healthy enough to be “the old Noah.”
“I guess that was the goal from when I had my setback from two or three months ago; just to come back healthy and to showcase that I was healthy going into free agency,” Syndergaard said Sunday after the Mets' 5-0 loss to the Braves. “I think now that I was able to come back after those two innings, I can kind of relax a little bit.”
Syndergaard’s final one-inning outing was forgettable; he allowed a leadoff homer to Jorge Soler among three hits and two runs against the Braves at Truist Park. He topped out at 95 mph and, while that is several ticks slower than what Syndergaard used to reach in his prime, it was hard enough to hint at improved radar gun readings in the future.
The pertinent question is whether Syndergaard might be lighting up radar guns in New York or elsewhere. Eligible to become a free agent next month, Syndergaard has expressed an interest in a one-year qualifying offer from the Mets, which would guarantee him around $20 million. Should the front office deem that too expensive, or should he choose to decline such an offer, then Syndergaard will become a free agent for the first time in his career.
“It’s out of my control right now,” Syndergaard said. “It would be a tough pill to swallow not wearing the Mets jersey next year. I’m just going to take things day by day and try not to focus too much on it.”
Ace is mum
The Mets will head into the offseason with significant concern surrounding their best pitcher, two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who declined multiple interview requests over the final month of the season. Outside of stray comments regarding his rehab, the only time deGrom has spoken publicly about his elbow since mid-July was on Sept. 9, when he delivered a statement without answering questions.
“I know what was said, but my ligament is perfectly fine,” deGrom insisted that day. “I’ve been throwing. So I wouldn’t be throwing if I had a compromised ligament. That’s the plan, to continue to throw and build up and see where we end up.”
Where deGrom ended up was the injured list to finish the season. Although he remained on a throwing program from August until late September, advancing as far as regular bullpen sessions, he ran out of time to appear in a game for the Mets.
deGrom will enter his age-34 season next year having thrown just 160 innings over the past two seasons combined. He has an opt-out in his contract following 2022, or a $32.5 million salary awaiting him in 2023 if he chooses to honor his current deal.
Under the knife
Third baseman J.D. Davis will undergo surgery on Tuesday to stabilize a torn ligament in his left middle finger, which has bothered him since May -- twice forcing him to the IL. The decision came earlier this month after discussions with Ohio-based hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, who treated Brandon Nimmo for a different injury earlier this season.
“I’ve always said that it kind of bothered me, and here and there it would flare up,” Davis said. “I tried to gut it out. The team needed me, and I just tried to play games under the circumstance. Sometimes, I guess it just doesn’t come through.”
Davis, who batted .285/.384/.436 with five home runs in 73 games this season, expects to be fully healed in advance of Spring Training. Of greater question is where that camp will take place for Davis, who once again enters the offseason as a significant trade candidate. Davis is still without an obvious defensive home in New York, but his offensive skill set could be enticing for other teams.
“My gut feeling, I could be out of here,” Davis said. “That’s what it’s kind of leaning toward. But there is a possibility that I could come back. I love New York, love the fans, love the city. I don’t know. … We all know that there’s going to be changes up and down.”
Loup, There It Is
Reliever Aaron Loup did not pitch in any of the Mets’ final four games, freezing his ERA at 0.95. That number is historic: It marks the first time in franchise history a pitcher finished a season with at least 20 innings and a sub-1.00 ERA.
Loup’s ERA came over 56 2/3 innings.
The left-hander can become a free agent after the season and has expressed interest in returning. He’ll likely require a sizable raise over his $3 million salary to do so.