Published on: 21st June, 2016
by Scott Mandel
On what should have been a celebratory evening for the New York Mets, given their tidy 2-1 win over the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals, a near sellout crowd of 40,122 on a Tuesday night, and great bullpen work from a group that struggled last week, the success turned out to be highly tempered, at best.
On a night the Mets also welcomed Travis d’Arnaud back to their lineup to provide a little needed spark to the Mets offense, there were more ominous events during the day and in the game that has left many in this organization shaking their heads.
The first bit of news was not expected. Zack Wheeler, the 26-year old fireballer who was in the final weeks of a successful 15-month rehab from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, is being flown up to New York tomorrow from Florida to meet with arm specialists after suddenly experiencing pain in that elbow.
Wheeler had been expected back on the pitching mound to begin his minor league assignment in two weeks. Now, that’s on hold.
Then, tonight, prior to the start of this big series pitting last season’s World Series opponents, the Mets announced Noah Syndegaard, their most dominant pitcher this season and scheduled to start tonight, was being replaced at the last minute to give him “an extra day of rest,” as the Mets put it. The Mets said they wanted Syndegaard available to pitch against the Washington Nationals next week with normal rest. Stay tuned on this one.
Finally, with old (and we really do mean old) reliable Bartolo Colon stepping in for Syndegaard, Mets manager Terry Collins was looking forward to getting six or seven good innings out of the 43-year old righthander to give the struggling bullpen a day off, especially with righty reliever Jim Henderson being placed on the disabled list yesterday.
Instead, Colon was knocked out of the game facing his very first hitter, Whit Merrifield. Mertifield hit a hard ground ball right to Colon that hit the pitcher on his throwing hand. The ball deflected to second baseman Neil Walker, who threw to first for an out. In the meantime, Colon shook his pitching hand in obvious pain and bent over at the waist as manager Terry Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez came rushing out of the dugout. After a brief meeting near the mound, Colon walked off the field. Hansel Robles entered and was given all the time he needed to warm up.
This was not what Collins had in mind for this series, or for this season.
At a time when his team is beginning to fall out of the race in the National League East with injuries to David Wright, Lucas Duda, and d’Arnaud coupled with awful seasons from Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto, the last bit of news Collins needed was that his pitching staff was fraying at the edges, too.