CINCINNATI - After a dominant spring training appeared to make him a lock to make his major-league debut this summer, top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard must wait until next season for his next chance to reach the majors.
The Mets excluded Syndergaard from their final round of September call-ups Sunday, effectively ending a season that has been marked by excitement and disappointment.
"We really have been consistent about this being what's best for him," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "If there were starting opportunities left, I think it might have been different. But we decided this is the way we wanted to go."
Multiple factors worked against a promotion for Syndergaard, who turned in a solid second half after injuries contributed to an inconsistent first half. The Mets' crowded 40-man roster played a role, as did his workload to this point in the season and the pitchers already in the Mets' rotation.
In his last start with Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday, Syndergaard allowed six runs in four innings in a playoff loss to Reno. In 27 games, he finished 9-8 with a 4.86 ERA and logged 137 innings.
The total represented a jump from 1172/3 innings the year before. To Paul DePodesta, the Mets' vice president of player development and scouting, it proved good enough to set up Syndergaard for another jump next season.
"We're happy at this point with the increase in Noah's workload," DePodesta said. "We look at things other than innings, and he's right up against his limit."
Ricco said Syndergaard still could have kept pitching while remaining within his team-mandated innings. The Mets even discussed promoting him to work out of the bullpen but ultimately decided against it. "The bottom line is that there's really no starting opportunities here over the rest of the season," Ricco said.
Instead, the Mets recalled righthander Rafael Montero on Friday, an expected move because he already was on the 40-man roster by virtue of his promotion earlier in the season. Montero will start Wednesday against the Rockies.
Still, the Mets entered Sunday with one more open spot, which could have gone to Syndergaard. But it was taken by Bobby Abreu, promoted along with reliever Gonzalez Germen, who already was on the 40-man roster.
The Mets released Abreu to clear a roster spot last month but promised him a September call-up if he chose to re-sign a minor-league deal and report to Triple-A Las Vegas. Abreu accepted the deal, a customary arrangement for veteran players.
"Having him around, we think, is a good thing," Ricco said, citing the 40-year-old's disciplined approach and influence on younger players.
Now, barring an injury, the Mets don't intend to alter their roster for the remainder of the season.
Earlier in the day, Syndergaard took to social media to express his disappointment. When asked by a Twitter follower why he was not yet pitching in the majors, Syndergaard responded, "Good question."
When the Mets' official account tweeted the roster moves announcing that Abreu and Germen had been recalled, a follower replied "WE WANT @Noahsyndergaard." Syndergaard retweeted the response.
Ricco said general manager Sandy Alderson reached out to Syndergaard in hopes of relaying a message.
"Sandy had a good talk with him. I think he's a little disappointed," Ricco said. "But we wanted to emphasize with him that we thought he had a good year."