Mets’ Noah Syndergaard needs Tommy John surgery after tearing UCL

Whenever this Major League Baseball season begins, it won’t include Noah Syndergaard.

The Mets right-hander has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery that will keep him sidelined into 2021, the team announced Tuesday.

Syndergaard, according to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, had discomfort in the elbow before spring training was suspended two weeks ago due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. A subsequent MRI exam revealed the ligament tear, and a second opinion by Dr. Neal ElAttrache confirmed the diagnosis.

Syndergaard’s surgery will be performed Thursday at the Hospital for Special Surgery and is expected to keep him sidelined until at least next April. The typical rehab is 14-15 months.

“Noah is an incredibly hard worker and a tremendous talent,” Van Wagenen said in a statement. “While this is unfortunate we have no doubt that Noah will be able to return to full strength and continue to be an integral part of our Championship pursuits in the future.”

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The 27-year-old Syndergaard went 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA in 32 starts last season. He is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2021 season.

With Syndergaard shelved, the Mets’ rotation depth will be tested. As it stood when spring training was suspended, the team had six starters for five spots. But now Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha would all slot into that rotation.

Next in line beyond that group could be left-hander David Peterson, the organization’s first-round draft pick from 2017, who is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Syracuse. Other potential starting options include Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, but team officials have indicated their preference is to keep both right-handers in the bullpen.

Syndergaard will become the fifth member of the team’s heralded big five – which once included deGrom, Matz, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler – to undergo Tommy John surgery. But this isn’t the first significant injury sustained by Syndergaard.

In 2017, Syndergaard missed most of the season after tearing his right lat. The injury occurred after Syndergaard had ignored the recommendation of general manager Sandy Alderson to undergo an MRI exam on his right shoulder.

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