In a season that most Met fans would like to forget, there are a couple of aspects that need a little bit of a recap. Steven Matz has had a miserable year. He started out on the DL right out of spring training. He made a few rehab starts – one of which was marvelous: one hit over seven shutout innings…in Vegas, yet – and was deemed ready for a return to the bigs. He made his 2017 debut on June 10, gaining the win with seven innings of five-hit ball, striking out two in a victory in Atlanta. Over his next four starts, he pitched well, getting through the seventh three times – a win, a loss and a no-decision – and through six once, also a no-decision. Starting on July 9, though, his season went straight down the tubes. He entered that game in St. Louis with a 2.12 ERA. By the time he made his last start on August 17, it was up to 6.08. The low point was when he got shellacked by the Dodgers on August 6, needing 102 pitches to get through five-and-a-third innings. It’s come out recently that Matz has been pitching all year in a great amount of pain, only getting as far as he did with the aid of anti-inflammatory medicine. Sometimes after a start, his elbow would swell up to the size of a grapefruit, he’s since told reporters. Now, I’m no medical professional, but to me, that’s not normal. Over the past week, the Mets’ training staff has been pilloried for letting Matz “pitch through it.” Matz ended up needing surgery to re-position a tendon in his pitching arm – similar to the surgery Jacob deGrom had that curtailed his 2016 season.
If Matz has had a miserable year, Noah Syndergaard has had no year to speak of. As we all know, Syndergaard has been on the shelf since April 30, when he made that fateful start in Washington, setting the Mets well on the way to a 23-5 defeat before leaving with a torn right lat muscle in his back. He’s been resting and rehabbing ever since. Last we had heard, he was a couple of weeks behind Matt Harvey, who has made two rehab starts thus far. Syndergaard was supposed to throw a live batting practice session in Port St. Lucie yesterday, but that was pushed back at least a day, “just as a precaution.” The training staff and team management thought “we were pushing it a little fast, wanting to get him back,” according to manager Terry Collins. “We want to err on the side of caution.” Now, the Mets’ training staff is being pilloried for holding Syndergaard back, supposedly impeding his progress.
Look, I’m as frustrated as any Mets fan this year. This wave of injuries and bad pitching has completely scuttled what was once a promising season. I get it. But what are these guys supposed to do? No matter which way they turn, they get slagged. And yeah, it’s easy comedy to faux-cringe whenever head trainer Ray Ramirez pokes his head out of the dugout and it’s all in good fun to boo him when he’s introduced on opening day, but these guys have a tough job to do and fans react like the injuries are the fault of the staff, as if they’re the cause of the injuries.
A lot of times, the trainers are just like us: there’s nothing they can do about it, either.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.