10:49pm: Noah Syndergaard is also pitching with a spur in his right elbow, Ackert reports. Though he denied that in his comments after his start tonight, multiple other reports suggest that it is indeed an issue, and Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that the club is not acknowledging the spur at the pitcher’s preference.
Though Syndergaard was working in the triple digits in his outing against the Nationals, he seemed to be struggling with control. The big righty ultimately departed after just three innings of work having allowed a season-high five earned runs and three walks.
Syndergaard recently experienced discomfort that led to an MRI, but was given a clean bill of health. As with Matz, it seems that the spur is mostly a matter of tolerating pain and avoiding changes to mechanics that could lead to broader problems.
It’s important to emphasize that bone spurs are fairly common and aren’t necessarily major concerns if they do not cause ligament issues. And there’s no indication in his case that surgery is on the table at the moment in Syndergaard’s case. Ackert does note that the expectation is that both pitchers will ultimately require procedures — with hopes that they can be delayed until the season is over.
As for Matz, he has been battling through the issue for over a month and has been treated with a cortisone shot at some point, Jon Heyman of todaysknuckleball.com writes. The spur is “not small” and is quite painful, and Heyman suggests that there’s at least some concern that continuing to pitch through it could contribute to a more serious injury. Matz himself is said to be uncertain at this time whether to elect surgery.
4:43pm: Mets southpaw Steven Matz has been diagnosed with a bone spur in his pitching elbow, as Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. The club is not only considering whether or not he’ll make his next start, but is assessing whether a surgical option will be pursued, per Marc Carig of Newsday (Twitter link).
GM Sandy Alderson will participate in a meeting to work through the options, per Carig’s report. The possibility of a procedure is just that at present, as no decisions have been made, but it appears to be very much on the table. While there’s no concern that pitching through the pain would lead to injury, at least directly, the club is said to be concerned that the pain has impacted his performance. Ackert notes that an operation after the season is also a possibility.
In the event that Matz does go under the knife in the near-term, Carig tweets, it would likely be six weeks before he is even able to begin throwing. He’d surely require a throwing program and rehab assignment from that point forward. While a precise timeline is difficult to guess, it could certainly represent a lengthy absence.
Matz had bounced back from a rough first start to post a long string of excellent outings — nine straight, in fact, in which he did not allow more than two earned runs. But things have been somewhat uneven in his three most recent starts, and his last effort set off some alarm bells. Matz not only allowed six earned runs, but failed to record a single strikeout in 4 1/3 innings. Glancing through the excellent Brooks Baseball database, it seems that Matz’s vertical release has dropped over the course of the season, though it’s unclear whether that’s connected at all.
This news represents another red flag for a Mets pitching staff that remains one of the game’s best. But heavy usage last season has, perhaps, shown up in several areas. Jacob deGrom isn’t throwing as hard, Noah Syndergaard has had a balky elbow, and Matt Harvey just hasn’t been his dominant self. The results are still excellent, on the whole, and it surely doesn’t hurt that Bartolo Colon has been magnificent while Zack Wheeler remains on the comeback trail (though the latter has been slowed of late). At the same time, there’s certainly some cause for concern with Matz, in particular — all the more so given that he dealt with lat issues in 2015.