2021 New York Mets: Prepare for the Return of Thor

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The 2021 New York Mets have made several moves this offseason in order to improve a rotation that struggled in 2020. Noah Syndergaard‘s absence was no small part of those issues.

2021 New York Mets: Opening Day Rotation

About two-thirds of the way through the offseason, the Mets have made a number of additions to the rotation. The team’s new front office has made a concerted effort to address the Mets’ 2020 weakness. In the pandemic-shortened season, the rotation essentially collapsed behind the best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom. Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery in March, Marcus Stroman opted out of the season, and the remaining experienced pitchers including Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha could not find consistent success.

Thanks to several trades and signings, the 2021 New York Mets rotation is set to line up as deGrom / Carrasco / Stroman / Peterson / Lucchesi. Stroman was re-signed on a qualifying offer, and the Mets traded for Carrasco from the Indians and Lucchesi from the Padres.

2021 New York Mets: More Additions Coming?

The front office has already lined up a solid 1-2-3 in the rotation, and have two high-upside guys in Peterson and Lucchesi. However, rumors have continued to connect them to free-agent starting pitchers including James Paxton and Jake Odorizzi.

These rumblings only intensified after Matz was dealt to the Blue Jays for three prospects two weeks ago. The belief is that Matz was traded in order to clear his five-million-dollar salary and a roster spot for a more reliable starting pitcher. Further, after the Mets rotation depth vanished last year, it is unlikely that management would trade away an experienced pitcher if there was not a deal being worked on to bring in an upgrade for the 2021 New York Mets.

2021 New York Mets: The Forgotten Piece

In all of the offseason roster turnover, it seems that former ace Noah Syndergaard has been somewhat unaccounted for. This is a smart play by the front office, as results for pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery are often unpredictable. Reliance on timely and successful returns is part of what led to underperforming rotations in recent years.

While Syndergaard must be left out of the equation for opening day, the potential for his return should not be understated. It’s easy to forget just how impactful Thor was when healthy. In his five seasons in the majors, Syndergaard pitched at least 150 innings in four of them. Altogether he posted a 3.31 ERA, with even better peripherals, including a 2.92 FIP. Excluding his injury-shortened 2017, he averaged 4.4 WAR per year.

In 2016, before deGrom asserted himself as the staff ace, Noah Syndergaard took up the mantle and led the Mets charge into the National League wild-card game. Overall that year, he posted a fantastic 2.60 ERA over 30 starts, good for 6.0 WAR. He would then proceed to throw seven scoreless innings and allow only two hits against San Francisco in the Wild Card Game.

2021 New York Mets: Thor’s Impact

It will certainly be challenging for Noah Syndergaard to return to form post-Tommy John surgery, but it’s worth considering just how good the Mets rotation could be when he’s back. Especially because his timetable may be ahead of schedule.

If Syndergaard can return in May, that would mean the Mets could be propelled through the summer on the backs of a deGrom-Carrasco-Syndergaard-Stroman-Peterson rotation. Any rotation with Marcus Stroman as their fourth starter should certainly be in the talks for the league’s best.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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David Murtha is an MLB writer covering the New York Mets as well as general baseball news. He is a lifelong Mets fan born and raised in Queens. He is also currently a student at Stony Brook University studying biology, and has previously written for other online publications.