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This was at the start of the 2016 season: Matt Harvey was The Dark Knight; Jacob deGrom had started becoming Jacob deGrom; Noah Syndegaard was Thor; Steven Matz was the Local Boy who was Ready to Make Good; Zach Wheeler would return from Tommy John surgery by midseason. The Mets had every reason to believe they owned the best rotation in MLB, and for years to come.
And now, deGrom is the last man standing.
The news prior to the Mets’ doubleheader against the Rockies that Syndergaard (right elbow inflammation following his return from Tommy John surgery) has been shut down for six weeks is yet another gut punch for Luis Rojas and the Flushing faithful, who are as exasperated right now as Knicks and Nets fans and Islanders fans are euphoric.
Syndergaard had been due back the middle of next month, a shot in the arm for an injury-ravaged outfit desperately trying to stay afloat in the NL East.
And now, as he turns 29 in August, and becomes a free agent at the end of the season …
Mets fans may have seen the last of him.
“We pray that he can pitch for us this year,” Rojas said.
Prayer sounds like a sound strategy for the Mets (17 on IL) at this moment: deGrom and Stroman and pray for a good omen.
And all Marcus Stroman (4-4, 2.47 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) needed was a Jose Peraza home run in the third inning for a 1-0 victory in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader sweep — 4-2 in the nightcap — of the struggling Rockies. Stroman threw a brilliant variety of 90 pitches — the sliders slid, the sinkers sank — to induce 10 ground-ball outs before Edwin Diaz closed it in the seventh. It was the fourth straight time he has gone at least six innings this season.
“Obviously we have to kind of carry the load until those guys get back, until we have our full squad,” Stroman said. “But I think we’re up to the task.”
Stroman showed his peerless fielding chops when he pounced off the mound to field a bunt by Garrett Hampson leading off the fifth inning and threw him out.
He has opted-in with a vengeance after opting-out of the 2020 COVID season. “He’s helped out bullpen stay fresh,” Rojas said.
So has Taijuan Walker, who has been a revelation so far and may return (left-side tightness) on Friday night. Still, Rojas should not hesitate putting Seth Lugo (elbow) in the rotation as soon as he returns early next week. Carlos Carrasco (hamstring) is due back in late June, but who the hell knows for sure whether that prognosis is accurate? Lugo has always fancied himself a starter, although he was more effective last season out of the bullpen. He was 7-5, 4.71 ERA across 18 starts in 2017.
Welcome to another Mets episode of déjà vu all over again.
Mets fans might recall Generation K — Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson, the first-overall pick of the 1994 MLB draft out of Florida State.
Pulsipher, dogged by injury and depression and anxiety, won five games as a Met. He had been hailed by some dreamers as another Jerry Koosman.
Isringhausen, diminished by tuberculosis and a broken wrist suffered by punching a dugout trash can and three major surgeries, won 21 games as a Met with seven of those coming when he worked in relief in a second life with the club. He had been hailed by some dreamers as another Tom Seaver.
Wilson won five games as a Met in 1996, started 17 minor league games over the next three injury-plagued seasons, and was traded in 2000 to the Rays. He has been considered the best Generation K prospect of them all.
Harvey is a 32-year-old Oriole, The Dark Plight.
Matz is a Blue Jay.
Wheeler is a Phillie.
Syndergaard has won 47 games across his five seasons. There was Cy Young talk surrounding Syndergaard in 2017.
“It’s good to hear there’s no structural damage in the UCL,” Rojas said.
A pyrrhic victory, and only a pyrrhic victory, for the 2021 Mets.
“I’ve always taken pride in taking the ball every fifth day and putting my team in a position to win,” Stroman said.
DeGrom and Stroman and pray for a good omen.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Steve Serby