The Mets have and will continue to be cautious in the workload of their young starting rotation. Terry Collins told reporters today that Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz won’t be appearing in a spring training game until as early as March 5th, and that Zack Wheeler could be seeing action in the Grapefruit League as early as March 8th. In an effort to keep them healthy, the Mets’ starting rotation has been kept to a lighter workload so far this spring.
Each of the young starters dealt with injuries in 2016 following their run into the 2015 World Series. Harvey was very ineffective before he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, requiring season-ending surgery. deGrom experienced fatigue early in the season, with his fastball velocity decreasing from the mid-to-upper-90s to the lower 90s. deGrom would catch the injury bug in September when he required elbow surgery to move the ulnar collateral ligament. Matz was diagnosed with a large bone spur in his pitching arm early last season. He attempted to pitch through it, but was eventually shut down in September after missing about a month due to a shoulder impingement. Wheeler hasn’t pitched in a major league game since September of 2014. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, Wheeler suffered a series of setbacks in his rehab in 2016, before being shut down. Syndergaard was the only one from the young staff able to make it through the season, though he did so with a small bone spur in his pitching arm. There is also worry that Syndergaard may one day require Tommy John surgery. He is the only one of this young and dynamic rotation to have never had the surgery.
The Mets understand that they need to be conservative in how they use their starters this spring. They need to make sure the rotation is healthy and fresh, but not rusty. The Mets’ 2015 pennant-winning run likely contributed to at least some of the injuries on the starting core. With a whole offseason to recuperate, the Mets are optimistic that their rotation can stay intact this year and possibly lead them back to the World Series. There is no need to rush these pitchers into games. They don’t need to be throwing every single workout day. 2017 would mark the first time that all five of the Mets’ prized pitchers would be healthy and active at the same time.