WASHINGTON — Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard, two of the Mets’ bright young pitchers, intend to keep pitching through bone spurs in their respective elbows, general manager Sandy Alderson said on Tuesday.
Doctors have assured the Mets that neither star pitcher is risking ligament damage by continuing to pitch through pain and discomfort, Alderson said. Both have been cleared of structural damage in their elbows. But each faces a somewhat different challenge.
Alderson termed Syndergaard’s bone spur as “very small” and “really insignificant,” to the point where surgery may not be required to deal with it.
“It’s a very small spur that may exist with 90 percent of the pitchers that are throwing in Major League Baseball today,” Alderson said. “We don’t expect that to be a start-by-start proposition.”
But Matz’s bone spur is larger and is causing more discomfort. He will eventually need to undergo surgery to remove the bone spur in the back of his left elbow, though he and the Mets hope to delay it until the offseason.
Surgery now would knock out Matz for three months, essentially wiping out his regular season and making him unlikely to pitch again this year.
“We will continue to monitor his situation,” Alderson said. “But at this point it’s a function of whether he can tolerate the discomfort while continuing to pitch.”
Matz’s start will be bumped back from Wednesday to Thursday. Long periods of rest would do little to lessen the discomfort caused by the bone spur. So, Matz will pitch, with the Mets keeping an eye out for mechanical changes that could lead to bigger problems.
Matz, the Long Island native, already has undergone Tommy John surgery early in his career. But he said he has peace of mind from team doctors that pitching will not bring additional risk of injury.
“If I’m claiming to be able to pitch, then I have no excuses,” said Matz, who first learned of the bone spur in May. “I expect myself to go out and pitch the way that I can.”
Matz is 2-2 with a 3.64 ERA in seven starts since learning of the bone spurs, though his worst outing during that stretch coincided with the worst pain he’s felt since the diagnosis.
Still, Matz insists that when he’s on the mound, adrenaline pushes out any thoughts of elbow pain.
“Not every pitch am I going ‘oh, where did that hurt,’” said Matz, who is 7-3 with a 3.29 ERA. “There’s discomfort in there and that’s all I know.”
Alderson raised the possibility of cutting down the length of Matz’s starts or perhaps going to a six-man rotation at some point, which would build in extra rest. But manager Terry Collins said that with Matz, the Mets will also weigh performance.
Meanwhile, Syndergaard’s situation appears more straightforward. He will continue to pitch on a regular schedule and will take anti-inflammatory medication.
Syndergaard, who denied having a bone spur a day before, said he didn’t feel the need for additional comment after meeting with Alderson and Collins on Tuesday.
Syndergaard (8-3, 2.49 ERA) allowed five runs in just three innings in a loss to the Nationals on Monday. But Syndergaard and Collins insisted that elbow pain did not prompt the pitcher’s struggles.