WASHINGTON — The New York Mets have significant issues with two of their young aces.
Shortly after it was revealed that a bone spur in Steven Matz’s pitching elbow is the cause of his discomfort and may lead to surgery, Noah Syndergaard had the second-shortest start of his career. Actually, it was the shortest if you exclude his ejection for throwing behind Mets villain Chase Utley on May 28.
And now, after an 11-4 loss to the Washington Nationals in Monday’s series opener, the Mets are staring at a four-game deficit in the National League East and the prospect that Matz may be skipped (or worse) on Wednesday and Logan Verrett will have to step into the rotation. Plus, they’ll have to solve what’s wrong with Syndergaard. He departed last week’s start complaining of elbow discomfort, then allowed a season-high five runs on seven hits and a season-high three walks in three innings on Monday.
The game began a rugged stretch for the Mets heading into the All-Star break. After completing this series at Nationals Park, the Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins and Nationals all visit Queens.
The Mets had lined up Syndergaard for the showdown against the first-place Nationals by having Bartolo Colon leapfrog him in the rotation last week. Yet three days after the Atlanta Braves exploded for a five-run fifth against Matz, the Nationals overcame an early 4-0 deficit with a five-run third that ended Syndergaard’s night. In all, the Nats scored 11 unanswered runs against Syndergaard, Sean Gilmartin and Erik Goeddel.
The Nats ran at will against the combination of Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud, stealing five bases against the duo in the opening three innings. Opponents have swiped 28 bases against Syndergaard this season. That’s more than double any other pitcher in 2016. Only three times in the majors this season has a pitcher surrendered five steals in a game. It has happened twice to Syndergaard, plus to Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa on April 19.
Meanwhile, general manager Sandy Alderson will be in Washington on Tuesday to meet with manager Terry Collins and Matz about the best course of action. Matz has been informed the elbow will not improve with rest. So the decision basically hinges on whether he can pitch effectively through discomfort and address the bone spur later, or whether he needs to have it removed now.
It’s a first: Brandon Nimmo, who went 0-for-4 in his major league debut on Sunday at Atlanta, recorded his first big league hit with a line single to right-center in the second inning against Joe Ross.
What’s next: With Stephen Strasburg landing on the disabled list, the Nationals plan to promote former first-round pick Lucas Giolito from Double-A Harrisburg for Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. ET game. Giolito will oppose Matt Harvey (4-9, 4.64). The Mets have faced their share of high-end prospects in their major league debuts this season. Giolito will join Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon, the Dodgers’ Julio Urias and Atlanta’s Aaron Blair. The Mets, by the way, won all three of those games.