The 2017 MLB season is not even a week old yet, but the New York Mets are already without two of their starting pitchers.
For the Mets, a healthy starting rotation is one of the major keys to success this season. The team was banking on all of their starters being healthy and ready to go for Opening Day. Unfortunately, two of them have already landed on the disabled list.
Young left-hander Steven Matz and righty Seth Lugo are both battling injuries that could be serious. Matz was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with left elbow irritation. The next day, it was announced that he had a strained flexor tendon. Lugo experienced right arm fatigue late last week, and was placed on the disabled list over the weekend. After undergoing an MRI on Saturday, it was revealed that he has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Although Lugo will try and avoid having Tommy John surgery for now, it is still a very real possibility. He is not going to throw for the next couple of weeks.
Before the season started, Matz was projected to be the fourth starter in the Mets rotation. Lugo competed with Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman in spring training for the fifth spot in the rotation. Ultimately, the job was won by Gsellman. After Matz went down with the elbow injury, the Mets announced that Wheeler would take his place as the fourth starter.
As of right now, the Mets five healthy starting pitchers are Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Wheeler and Gsellman. Wheeler missed the past two seasons because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Harvey underwent surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in June and was forced to miss the remainder of the 2016 season. Degrom was sidelined for the final month of last year after he had season-ending surgery on his ulnar nerve. Thankfully for the Mets, all three are healthy now.
With Matz and Lugo hurt, the main problem for the Mets is depth in the rotation. There is not guarantee that either pitcher will be back anytime soon. Lugo might need to have Tommy John surgery. Matz is having yet another elbow issue. Last season, he had a bone spur in his left elbow that required surgery. If another starter gets injured, it is unclear who the Mets will turn to.
The Mets cannot afford another injury to someone in their starting rotation. In order to compete for a playoff spot again this season, they will need their current five starters to remain healthy.