Noah Syndergaard missed the entire 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Legions of New York Mets fans are awaiting the fan-favorite hurler's return as he rehabs from the devastating elbow injury that preceded surgery. They might have to wait a bit longer.
During his second rehab start Tuesday night, Syndergaard left after one inning due to right elbow soreness. The Mets have said it was just precautionary but there's no way that's a good sign.
Syndergaard threw four scoreless innings in his first outing last week and things seemed to go swimmingly. His fastball sat at 93 to 95 mph and he allowed one hit while striking out five. It was a really nice start roughly 15 months removed from surgery. Things seemed to be looking up. Tuesday's news changes the entire tenor of Syndergaard's future.
It's certainly possible this was just natural soreness from not stressing his pitching elbow for so long. But it could also mean something in his delivery is causing the elbow problems and they will persist. Obviously we're hoping for the former because Syndergaard is really fun to watch pitch.
It is notable that his fastball has been topping out at 95 in his rehab starts -- including Tuesday night's -- when he used to hit 97 regularly. In fact, he topped 97 mph with his fastball 5,078 times in the five seasons before his injury and his average fastball velocity was the hardest of any starter in the late 2010s. That said, his velocity has fluctuated at times. It'll be interesting if he comes back from Tommy John with less velocity and what impact that has on his success.
Again, hopefully this is a bump in the road and Syndergaard is fine.