LOS ANGELES - More and more, it appears top Mets pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard will have to wait until next season before leaving Las Vegas.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Saturday that a September call-up would hinge on whether the 21-year-old has enough innings remaining to make more than a brief appearance.
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In 24 starts at Triple-A Las Vegas, Syndergaard is 8-7 with a 4.85 ERA in 1241/3 innings. Though Collins didn't offer a specific number, he said the pitcher has "not very many" left before hitting his innings cap.
Syndergaard's limit for the season is believed to be roughly 150 innings and the Las Vegas 51s have qualified for the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
"You always want to see the prospects," Collins said. "I know one thing I don't want to have happen is have him be called up and have five innings to work with. Start him in a game, have him go five and shut him down for the rest of the year, I'm not sure that's a fair assessment of what he can do."
Syndergaard had been considered a near lock to make his major-league debut this season, especially after an impressive spring training, during which he showcased a fastball that hit the high 90s. He looked to be on a similar path as Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, whose big-league debuts came in the middle of the season. But Syndergaard was slowed by injuries to his right forearm and left (non-throwing) shoulder.
Within the organization, team officials have been pleased by Syndergaard's improvement as a pitcher, though he has battled with inconsistency in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. In his last start, a six-inning no-decision against New Orleans on Friday, Syndergaard allowed five runs in the first.
"You've got to be a little more consistent," Collins said. "He's had some good games but he's had some rough games . . . he's had some ups and downs."
The Mets have endured their share of injuries as a pitching staff. Ace Matt Harvey will miss the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Dillon Gee landed on the disabled list for nearly two months and lefthander Jonathon Niese missed time, as well.
Yet, the Mets have had just enough pitching depth to fill the gaps, even without Syndergaard.
Wheeler has made a team-leading 26 starts and has enjoyed perhaps his longest run of consistency during the second half. Veteran Daisuke Matsuzaka spent much of the season bridging the gap in the starting rotation while Bartolo Colon has been a stalwart, leading the Mets with 1611/3 innings.
When Gee went down, Jacob deGrom stepped into the starting rotation and hasn't looked back, putting himself in contention for National League Rookie of the Year.
And when deGrom landed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness earlier this month, the Mets opted to promote Rafael Montero.
Even if Syndergaard has a few innings left under his cap -- and Las Vegas got knocked out of the postseason early -- a September promotion still appears unlikely if he can't make more than just a brief cameo. To Collins, the pitcher would need more of a chance to gain something meaningful from his call-up.
"We all know he can throw hard," Collins said. "I just think if you're going to get a look, you should get more than just one or two innings."