Noah Syndergaard Undergoes “Tommy John” Surgery


Photo courtesy of CBS Sports

On Tuesday, March 24th, 2020, the New York Mets announced that one of their star starting pitchers, Noah Syndergaard, would undergo “Tommy John” surgery set for Thursday, March 26th, 2020. This surgery was performed by Mets Medical Director Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in West Palm Beach, Florida.

As far as preseason predictions, the Mets were the team to beat in the National League East for the 2020 season. While the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the season indefinitely, Syndergaard also threw a curveball to the Mets organization and their fans. At a certain point during spring training, the Mets were ranked as the fifth-best team in the entire Major Leagues. This was due to their powerful offense led by 2019 NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso and other pitching greats on the roster, like two-time consecutive NL Cy Young winner Jacob DeGrom and AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello.

While this isn’t necessarily a detrimental blow to the Mets, as the NL East wasn’t looking to be a super-competitive league this season, he is still a great asset to have on the team. During the 2019 season, Syndergaard posted an unusually high earned run average of 4.28. He didn’t, however, earn the nickname “Thor” just because of his long, golden locks. The Mets pitcher had an average 97.7 mph fastball last season, the best in the MLB. Even though many were unsure of how he would perform this season, Syndergaard could always be counted on to throw a good game for the Amazin’ Mets.

Tommy John surgery, for which the real name is ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, stabilizes the elbow, reduces or eliminates pain, and restores range of motion. It was named after former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Tommy John, who was the first to receive the surgery in 1974. Many pitchers have received this surgery within the past 46 years, and while some come back to throw an amazing season, others are never the same athletes they once were.

The typical recovery time for Tommy John surgery is 15 months,which would mean that Syndergaard would miss all of the 2020 season, or what remains of it, and almost half of the 2021 season. This surgery could be harmful to his own career because the Mets’ starter will become a free agent during the 2020 offseason. Teams will likely be nervous to offer millions to a pitcher whose most recent performance was during spring training.

With the United States now topping the world list for confirmed coronavirus cases, many states have required that hospitals only perform essential surgeries in order to meet the demands needed to treat and prevent the pandemic. According to industry sources, the Mets and Syndergaard were informed that his surgery met the needs to qualify as an essential surgery. While many still frown upon this decision, others agree with the hospital’s reasoning.

It is uncertain what the future will hold for Syndergaard and the New York Mets organization. Will he return to the team in 2021 or has he thrown his last pitch as a Met? Will the surgery increase the velocity in which he throws, or will his nickname of “Thor” be stripped from him? Only time will tell.