ATLANTA — Sometimes it’s like the baseball gods are giving the Mets and their fans the finger. Hours after Noah Syndergaard was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strain of a ligament in his right index finger, left hander Steven Matz had to leave Tuesday night’s game with discomfort in his left middle finger. The team said X-rays were negative for a broken bone, but he will head to New York for an MRI and be examined by team doctors.
A team built around strong pitching, the Mets are now scrambling just to make sure they have enough to get through the next few games.
“I don’t know…we’ll see,” an obviously frustrated Mickey Callaway said about the plan going forward. “We haven’t even discussed it. Have to talk to everybody else…
“We’re going to have to make some moves, we gotta get some arms in here.”
After a depleted Mets bullpen blew a four-run lead Tuesday night and the Mets fell to the 7-6 Braves on a walkoff home run for the second time in three games, this time by Johan Camargo of Gerson Bautista, the Mets lack of organizational pitching depth was proving to be a problem again.
Before the game, when the Mets were looking at just one starter expected to miss just one start, the plan was not ideal. They had to go to Jason Vargas, who went just three innings last time out, on short rest Wednesday and strip the bullpen of their most reliable reliever, Seth Lugo, to start on Thursday.
If Matz is expected to miss any time the Mets are going to be hard pressed to find starting pitching ready to be thrusted into emergency service in their system.
Syndergaard was scheduled to start Wednesday night in the series finale against the Braves. Vargas, who lasted just three innings in his start on Saturday, will now start on Wednesday at SunTrust Park and the Mets will pull Seth Lugo out of their bullpen to start against the Cubs at Citi Field on Thursday.
In five starts so far this season, Vargas has had just one in which he’s completed five innings. He’s given the Mets just 162/3 innings pitched and in those innings, he has allowed 24 earned runs. That’s a 10.62 ERA. His starts have been a burden on the Mets’ bullpen.
A bullpen that is now without it’s most reliable long man.
While he is not stretched out like a starter and will be limited to about 65 pitches on Thursday, he may be a more effective starter than Vargas has been so far this season.
The bullpen is already stretched incredibly thin, as was clear Tuesday night.
The Mets were a man short in the bullpen Tuesday night, because they did not bring anyone in even though they knew there was a possible issue with Syndergaard before Monday’s 1 p.m. game.
There are no really great options available in the minor leagues for the Mets. So they are asking young players to step into high-leverage roles they are not used to.
“Paul Sewald and (Robert) Gsellman are gonna have to continue to step up and maybe even take on a bigger role and then guys like (Jacob) Rhame are going to have to really come in and maybe pitch in situations they really haven’t pitched in before. He did it last night and did a really good job,” Callaway said before Sewald gave up two runs, one earned, and Rhame gave up three Tuesday night. “So yeah, other people are going to have to step up because we’re taking one of our better bullpen guys and putting him in the rotation. I think we all feel in the end that this is going to make us the best team.”
At least the news on Syndergaard gives the impression this will not be too long of a stretch.
Dr. Leesa Galatz System Chair of Orthopedics at Mount Sinai Health System did not examine Syndergaard, but said this issue is repetitive stress or overuse injury that is an issue that can be and has been managed in athletes before.She indicated that after a few days of immobilization (a splint), there could be some physical therapy and then a progression back to regular work.