Out of playoff contention and playing out the stretch of a disappointing 2021 season, a rare shimmer of positivity flashed across the New York Mets organization on Tuesday night when starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard toed the rubber at Citi Field for the first time in 730 days.
After having Tommy John surgery in March last year, Syndergaard’s rehab assignment went off the rails — an originally projected June return date getting pushed back after he was shut down in late May while working in the minors before contracting COVID-19.
“It was a crazy journey,” Syndergaard said. “It was like Murphy’s Law. Anything that could have happened did happen.”
But Tuesday night finally signaled the return of the 29-year-old fireballing right-hander nicknamed “Thor,” where he was limited to throwing just fastballs and changeups as to not put more strain on his arm during the first inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Miami Marlins.
Regardless, just getting to the mound was a victory.
“When I was walking out of the dugout, hearing the fans, I almost had to shed a little tear,” Syndergaard said. “I’m not really an emotional guy, but it definitely got to me.”
“It just seemed like things were up against me and I wasn’t going to make it back this year. Just to get back ou there and compete, even if it was for one inning, felt amazing.”
His velocity was down, touching 96 mph rather than the near-100-mph stuff Mets fans were made accustomed to over his first few years with the club — but he was plenty effective. Syndergaard set down the Marlins in order during his one inning of work, needing just 10 pitches to strike out Miguel Rojas and Jazz Chisholm while getting Bryan De La Cruz to ground out.
“I felt great. Just to knock the rust off and get my feet underneath me and have a clean inning,” Syndergaard said. “It was amazing to be out there and feel the rush of the Mets faithful.”