Since the unveiling of the MLB All Star Game Rosters Tuesday night, there has been much discussion, as there is every year, regarding which pitcher should start the game for the National League. There are a few story lines that make that choice interesting and worth weighing in on. From a Mets perspective, I am actually hopeful to not see our guy even take the field.
Terry Collins will have the ultimate decision as to which pitcher in a line of aces will get to pitch first as he will manage the National League squad in the midsummer classic. He has quite the cast to pick from. Among NL starting pitchers, the group includes Jake Arrieta, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jose Fernandez, Jon Lester, Stephen Strasburg, Julio Teheran and Collins’ own ace Noah Syndergaard.
Clayton Kershaw is injured and will be replaced. In a recent interview regarding this decision, Collins said “I can tell you Jake is right near the top of the list,” Collins said. “I kind of like my guy too, those guys have great numbers.”
You can also throw Bumgarner out of contention because he is slated to start Sunday. Arrieta, Thor, Fernandez, and Strasburg will be working on their fourth day if/when they appear in the game on Tuesday July 12th in San Diego California. Jon Lester, victim of a recent Mets rout, will be on his 3rd day. Teheran’s health status is unclear as he may not even make his next start for the Braves on Saturday. To me all signs point to Cueto, as he will be on extra rest and he has the numbers.
Whether he starts the game or not, Noah Syndergaard’s usage in this game requires some thought. I am proposing that Terry Collins sit him for the entire All Star Game. I know it is the unpopular opinion, as Met fans want to see our players play among the best and want the entire country so see his electrifying stuff, but at what cost?
Noah has been battling bone spurs in his throwing elbow for at least a month or so. He is on pace to easily eclipse his innings total from last year, and his results have been pedestrian in two of his last three starts. Does having him take the mound outweigh the health benefits of him not throwing competitively for a week, and to ramp up in preparation for a stretch run to catch the Washington Nationals?
Collins himself has commented that the bone spur issue ‘could’ influence his decision to start Syndergaard. Let’s make it easy, not only don’t start him, don’t even pitch him at all. Tell him after tonight’s start against the Nationals (a game the Mets need more right now than home field in a World Series they may never reach) that he will next pitch in Philly after the break. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show because we need you rested and ready when the bell rings to begin the second half.
Noah Syndergaard should go to the ASG and mingle with the best of the best because he clearly deserves it. Experience the pageantry and the royal treatment and revel in the honor. His first half performance has also made him deserving of a respite. For those of you who may complain about wanting his skills to be ‘showcased for the entire country to see’, I would say, they already were. He won a World Series game in his first season in the Major Leagues and led off the game by buzzing the opposing hitter with his club in an 0-2 hole. In addition to the World Series Thor pitched brilliantly as both starter and in reliever in the playoffs.
As a cautionary tale, with the All Star Game at Citi Field in 2013, fans pushed for Matt Harvey to deservedly start the game. He did and pitched two scoreless innings striking out three in front of the hometown crowd. It was a special thing for anyone who was lucky enough to have felt the electricity in the ballpark, as I was. However, in the end, what did it get him or the club? Later that season Matt Harvey was shut down after tearing his UCL in late August, costing him a year in his prime. Did the All Star Game cause that? Of course not. But it could not have helped.
I would rather have Syndergaard leading the charge in the second half by starting next Friday night in Philadelphia and go seven scoreless rather than two innings in what basically amounts to an exhibition game on Tuesday night. He says he only feels pain in the elbow when he throws. Well, then don’t throw if you don’t have to!
The right arm of Noah Syndergaard is way too important to the success of this baseball club to use it needlessly in the All Star Game. According to published reports, Noah’s pitching style and velocity MAY make him more at risk for the dreaded Tommy John surgery, that he has so far avoided.
Terry Collins should be prudent here,and make a decision to protect his pitcher rather than allow the player’s competitiveness and desire dictate his choices once again. Let’s give Syndergaard’s arm some well-earned rest in his first full season in the majors. If he does pitch, I’d hate to look back on the decision only to say “I told you so.”