Syndergaard returns for Mets, deGrom done for season

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

NEW YORK — Noah Syndergaard started Tuesday night for the New York Mets, returning to a major league mound for the first time in two years and completing his delayed comeback from Tommy John surgery.

The right-hander topped out at 96 mph and struck out his first two batters in a perfect inning against Miami, throwing nine of 10 pitches for strikes.

The team also announced that ace Jacob deGrom won’t pitch again this season. The two-time Cy Young Award winner has been sidelined since mid-July because of an elbow injury that’s healed, according to the club.

He’s been throwing bullpens recently, including a successful one Monday, with an eye toward a potential return this year. But with the Mets out of playoff contention, deGrom and the club agreed there’s no sense in him starting a game even though he’s healthy, manager Luis Rojas explained.

“Everyone is fully on board,” said Rojas, adding that deGrom should have a normal offseason. “It’s the right thing.”

The right-hander was 7-2 with a sparkling 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts against only 11 walks in 92 innings when he got hurt.

“I think coming back in spring training he’ll be the Jake that we know,” Rojas said

Syndergaard was reinstated from the 60-day injured list to start the second game of a single-admission doubleheader at Citi Field. The skidding Mets announced the move about 2 1/2 hours before the first game, a 5-2 win started by Marcus Stroman.

The 29-year-old Syndergaard can become a free agent after the season, and the Mets must decide how much they want him back and whether to make him a one-year qualifying offer.

“We want to see him pitch,” Rojas said. “The organization will benefit from watching him perform.”

Syndergaard’s return comes too late to help the 2021 Mets, who were eliminated from the postseason chase last weekend. New York (73-82) led the NL East for three months but began to nosedive when the calendar turned to August.

Syndergaard, an All-Star in 2016, could make another appearance before the season ends Sunday. He and the Mets initially targeted a June return, but his rehab progression was slowed by a sore elbow that caused him to be shut down in late May for a while and then a positive test for COVID-19 in late August even though he is vaccinated.

“I think he’s going to give everyone here an idea where he’s at,” Rojas said.

Syndergaard made a pair of rehab appearances last week for Triple-A Syracuse, working one inning each time. He allowed one hit and struck out two over two scoreless innings.

On the advice of doctors, Syndergaard stopped throwing his slider when he resumed rehabbing this summer because they thought that pitch might have caused the elbow discomfort he experienced in the spring.

So on his own, Syndergaard decided to scrap his curveball for now as well. He said he thinks he can be effective – at least in short stints – with just his four-seam fastball, two-seamer and changeup.

He certainly was Tuesday night against the last-place Marlins.

“He’s excited. He wants to get in there and compete,” Rojas said. “It’s been a long road. … He worked really hard to get in this position.”

It was Syndergaard’s first big league outing since Sept. 29, 2019, against Atlanta. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow at spring training in March 2020 and had Tommy John surgery later that month.

Syndergaard served as the Mets’ 29th man for the doubleheader. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, catcher Chance Sisco was designated for assignment.

The hardest-throwing starter in the majors since his arrival, Syndergaard came up in 2015 and helped the Mets reach the World Series that year. He began the night 47-30 with a 3.31 ERA in 119 career games (118 starts), all with New York.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

atlanta braves
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
6 Comments

ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.