Photo; The Big Lead
Mets fans are in a constant state of worry over the state of the health of their teams’ starting pitchers.
This spring training, media coverage of the team has almost exclusively focused on the forearms, elbows and shoulders of the Mets pitching staff. Not to say there isn’t, or shouldn’t be, concern. The Mets pitchers’ arms are a dumpster fire. There’s no doubt. But this is the state of baseball in the current era.
Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Seth Lugo have all undergone major surgeries in their careers and Noah Syndergaard has bone chips in his pitching elbow that have caused him pain and to miss starts over the course of his young career. Mets fans will have a difficult job this season; be aware that all of their starters are a pitch away from the DL and at the same time ignore it and enjoy the team’s games.
Who remembers ‘Generation K?’
The reality is that there has been an epidemic of arm injuries for at least a decade that has affected every level of organized baseball. Almost every fan of every team will have similar worries about their pitchers. However, the plight of Mets fans seems a little worse, as their pitching staff seems to have more young, flawed arms with excellent pedigrees than any other team in the league.
Currently, Steven Matz is dealing with a sore left elbow. This should come as no surprise to anyone, fan or media member. Matz had Tommy John surgery 6 years ago and last year had a bone spur the size of a Buick removed from his pitching elbow. Despite the way these procedures have been portrayed, his elbow is not fine! Can he pitch? Of course he can pitch. But look at what happens when he pitches; his injury track record since he’s been in the majors serves as Exhibit 1.
Once a joint compromised athlete, always a joint compromised athlete and surgery is not a panacea or a permanent fix. The Tommy John Surgery ‘new’ ligament has a shelf life that’s less that of the original Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL), and will give out at some point. So the worry regarding Matz is real, yo. Same for deGrom and Harvey and Wheeler.
Regardless of the sport or the injury, surgeries can repair but they don’t result in ‘good as new.’ The phrase ‘underwent successful surgery’ has nothing to do with an athlete returning to form.
By the way, Seth Lugo had spinal fusion surgery when he was a 21-year old, before ever throwing a pitch in his professional career. Another item to be aware of whilst you try to ignore it…
Google ‘thoracic outlet syndrome surgery,’ after Googling ‘Tommy John Surgery,’ and if you’re really daring look at the videos for each, and tell me if you think Matt Harvey A) has a good chance to regularly throw 97 mph and B) is going to be okay. But then ignore what you saw so you can enjoy his starts. My elbow and shoulder hurts just from watching the videos.
Mets fans have a difficult task this season and for as long as this pitching staff is together. Kind of like taking the ‘Red Pill’ and the ‘Blue Pill’ at the same time; be aware of the reality but ignoring it so you can enjoy the game.