Mets acting general manager Zack Scott revealed that starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard will likely begin another rehab assignment sometime this week as he continues to work his way back to the mound after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.
The 28-year-old starter was initially expected to return to the Mets’ rotation in June, but complications saw the team shut down his first rehab stint in the minors — providing just one of many blows sustained by a rotation that had to wait until July for Carlos Carrasco to return while potentially losing Jacob deGrom for the remainder of the season.
Now with just five weeks left in a disastrous 2021 season, Syndergaard will make one last push to toe the rubber for the Mets — but it could very well come as a reliever rather than a starter.
“You kind of have to take it as it goes,” Scott said. “You have to see how he does if he starts lengthening out, does it change the way he feels? Does it change the power in his stuff? We learn a lot as we go.”
Out of his 119 career regular-season appearances, Syndergaard has made just one relief outing which came back in 2016 along with a stellar seventh inning of work in Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I think just with where the calendar is, if you decide to bring a guy back with more length, it’s just going to lengthen the amount of time it takes to get him back in the game,” Scott said. “We can always change course. It doesn’t affect the progression… We always learn new things about who’s healthy on the major-league roster and where we’re at and we’ll figure out where the best fit is when we look at how he’s progressing.”
For a player facing free agency this winter, there will be a priority to get back to the mound even in a limited sense to prove that the flamethrowing righty can still excel — which is why Scott isn’t anticipating too much of a problem potentially persuading Syndergaard to adopt a reliever’s role.
“It’s not a formal conversation, but more of an obvious conversation that he knows it’s going to be just if we want to get him back into big-league games because we think he can help us,” Scott said. “If he’s stretched out for three innings and we decide that’s what makes the most sense for the team at the time, then I think he knows. He wants the same thing, he wants to help us win games.”