The Mets have had one of the most polarizing seasons in MLB history this year — literally.
Never has a team done as well as the Mets, for so long, only to fizzle out to the extent they did. From MLB.com’s Mets beat writer Anthony DiComo:
I have seen this statistic in several places today, and there is no better summation of the 2021 Mets:
No team in Major League history has spent as much time (103 days) in first place and finished with a losing record. The Mets are mathematically guaranteed to become the first.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 27, 2021
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Though the Mets’ playoff chances have long since been dashed — there’s no chance they finish at .500 or better — there was perhaps one silver lining to end the season. Right-handed pitcher Noah Syndergaard returned to the mound to face the Marlins on Tuesday, his first time on the Mets’ active roster in almost two years.
He only pitched one inning, but looked at top form, striking out two batters and throwing 10 pitches, including nine for strikes.
First batter…⚡️⚡️ pic.twitter.com/zWulxb1Dz3
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 28, 2021
With that, here’s what you need to know about Syndergaard’s injury and his return to the mound:
What was Noah Syndergaard’s injury?
In May 2020, Syndergaard, nicknamed Thor, underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament, his most recent in a long string of injuries. It sidelined him for all of the 2020 season and much of the 2021 season, though he faced numerous setbacks along the way.
Syndergaard last pitched in the major leagues on Sept. 29, 2019, when he went seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits — while striking out nine — in a 7-6 win over Atlanta. Curiously, it was also the Mets’ finale that season. It was also the last time Syndergaard pitched a full season in the majors without spending any time on the injured list.
Once those setbacks began, doubt started to creep in about whether Syndergaard would ever pitch for the Mets again, especially after significant delays to his rehab this summer. The 29-year old right-hander has spent numerous stints on the injured list in his career, including time on the 60-day injured list in 2017 after suffering a torn lateral muscle where he was sidelined from May 1 to Sept. 23.
In 2018, he twice landed on the injured list: The first time was for over a month, from the end of May until July 12, with a torn ligament in his finger. The second time was July 22 of that year; he missed 10 days due to contracting hand, foot and mouth disease.
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How long has Noah Syndergaard been a Met?
Syndergaard came to the Mets as the key piece in a trade back in 2012.
Then a top pitching prospect in the Blue Jays’ farm system, Syndergaard was traded to the Mets along with fellow prospect Wulimer Becerra and catchers John Buck and Travis d’Arnaud. In exchange, the Blue Jays got reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, as well as catchers Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole.
After spending a few years in the Mets farm system, he made his debut May 12, 2015 at the age of 22. He threw 5.1 innings and gave up three runs on six hits while striking out six and taking the loss.
All told, Syndergaard started 24 games for the Mets that year and compiled a 9-7 record with a 3.25 ERA and struck out 166 batters in 150 innings, good enough for a fourth-place finish in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
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What is Noah Syndergaard’s contract?
Unlike many of his pitching contemporaries who broke into the league around the same time, Syndergaard never received a massive contract extension from the Mets.
After his contract expired at the conclusion of the 2020 season, he signed a 1-year, $9.7 million to stay with the Mets through the end of the 2021 season.
Now that the end of the season has arrived, Syndergaard will enter free agency for the first time in his career at age 29, his first chance to earn big money and a long-term contract.
So far, Syndergaard is 47-30 with a 3.31 ERA and 777 strikeouts in 717 innings, with one All-Star nod under his belt.