Noah Syndergaard returned to the mound Tuesday night. The sparse crowd at Citi Field heard “Carmina Burana” and cheered. The guy they call “Thor” prepared to throw his first pitch in two years.
The first inning was perfect with 10 pitches, nine for strikes, and two strikeouts. The Miami Marlins could not handle his 96 MPH fastball. Syndergaard was perfect as the Mets swept a doubleheader from the Marlins that snapped their five game losing streak.
So the long haul back from Tommy John surgery for Noah Syndergaard is almost complete. He had some setbacks. Right elbow soreness and a bout with COVID-19, delayed his long awaited return. He is relying on a fastball, avoiding throwing the curve, and sliders to avoid elbow soreness.
“ It was special for him and the welcome when he walked back to the dugout it was good to see him pitch like that,” said Mets Manager Luis Rojas.
It was a last minute decision to start Syndergaard in the second game of a Mets 2-1 win in nine innings of extra baseball with pandemic rules.
If this is Noah Syndergaard for next year then the Mets will be in good hands. He is expected to be on the mound again before the season concludes Sunday down in Atlanta and perhaps throw another inning or two.
Syndergaard will get a qualifying offer and hopes to remain in New York, one of the many and busy significant offseason decisions for the Mets hierarchy
“It would be something I would be extremely grateful for,” Syndergaard said about taking a qualifying offer. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. It’s definitely something I’m hoping for.”
He added, “But I’m pretty confident that we’ll reach an agreement and I’ll be pitching here next year. I’d love nothing more than that. New York has a special place in my heart, and always will.”
Of course New York is special to him. His major league inauguration and homegrown team says Mets and the mound at Citi Field is what Syndergaard calls his home
So the nervous feeling of returning is now over. The next step is continuing the process of getting strong this winter and Syndergaard is on track with expectations of remaining in New York.
There will be other teams that may take a look at his next start and try to make a pitch. There will be some offers, but as one industry source informed me, the Mets will have the upper hand and a qualifying offer will be sufficient.
Add Syndergaard back in the mix, hope for a healthy Jacob deGrom, and bring back Marcus Stroman. That would make for a formidable three in the starting rotation, though a lot rides on the health of deGrom and Syndergaard. The Mets will go with the flow and hope for the best.
This is what the Mets expected, that is, until the setbacks ruined the plan. And a healthy Syndergaard on the mound is all good for the Mets.
The Mets finally shut down deGrom. There never was a plan for him to pitch in one of the final games of the season this week. They expect him to be healthy and ready when the Mets convene again in five months in Port St. Lucie.
But this late September night at Citi Field for the Mets was special. For three months this season it was supposed to be meaningful baseball for the Mets in September, but it never materialized.
Perhaps, a healthy deGrom and Syndergaard could have made a difference. The Mets would be looking forward to postseason baseball next week but circumstances went beyond their control.
Now they can look forward to next year, contingent of course on the continued comeback of Syndergaard and no recurring elbow issues for deGrom.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook,com/Rich Mancuso