Zack Wheeler Out, Noah Syndergaard In?

With news coming down early Monday that the Mets strikeout leader from 2014 will likely miss the rest of the upcoming season with a torn UCL ligament in his elbow, New York's prized prospect Noah Syndergaard could be an option to fill the void left by Zack Wheeler.

New York Mets’ right-hander Zack Wheeler was diagnosed with a fully torn ulnar collateral ligament on Saturday.

He’s headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery, opening up a spot in the Mets’ starting rotation.

The question is will the team fill the spot with a rookie?

Noah Syndergaard has a dominant fastball that reaches the upper- 90’s, a strong breaking ball and a decent change.

The 22-year-old has the ability to overpower hitters and acquire strikeouts. So far this spring he’s thrown seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings.

Wheeler currently leads the team in strikeouts (271) and ranks third in innings pitched (285 1/3).

Even though Syndergaard could help fill the strikeout void, he doesn’t seem 100 percent ready for the big leagues yet.

If given the opportunity to be a starter, Syndergaard would likely spend his rookie season dominating in some games and being dominated in others.

His command is shaky and his pitches are still inconsistent, which would probably result in a below-average WHIP and high ERA.

Another determining factor that could keep Syndergaard out of the rotation is free agency. If he were to open the season in the Mets’ rotation, and not return to the minors, he could become eligible for free agency a season earlier (after the 2020 season).

The organization would have to wait to start the right-hander until Day 21 of the season to delay free agency until after 2021.

If the Mets wait until the summer to start Syndergaard they could save millions by delaying arbitration eligibility by a year.

To save one of the organization’s top prospects for the future it is likely that Syndergaard will spend most of 2015 in Triple-A Vegas fine-tuning his pitches and becoming a more consistent starter.

Last year, Syndergaard went 9-7 with a 4.60 ERA in 26 starts at Triple-A Vegas.

If he can advance his consistency and improve his command, Syndergaard can become a No. 1 or 2 starter in the Major Leagues.

However, this is not to say the Mets should rush him into the starting rotation. Speeding up the process could lead to nothing but unnecessary issues like not fully developing his skills or even worse, injury.

According to ESPN, manager Terry Collins said veteran right-hander Dillon Gee will take over for Wheeler.

Gee earned a spot in the rotation last season after Matt Harvey’s elbow injury, but had to give it back this offseason once Harvey was ready to return.

In 2014, Gee had a 4.00 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 137.1 innings.

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