Keith Hernandez won't be the only one who misses a second consecutive New York Mets-Philadelphia Phillies weekend series.
Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that the Phillies have pushed Noah Syndergaard's next scheduled start back from Sunday against the Mets to Monday against the Cincinnati Reds.
Dating back to his time with the Los Angeles Angels, this is the third time that Syndergaard's team has had a series against the Mets this year, and it will be the third time that he doesn't pitch. That's caused some to wonder if Syndergaard is ducking his former team. One of Syndergaard's former Mets teammates pushed back against that assertion on Twitter Wednesday.
Former MLB reliever Jerry Blevins -- a Met from 2015-2018 -- defended his long-time teammate in a series of tweets.
For those people calling Syndergaard soft for missing the Mets, you’re full of it," Blevins said. "This is the guy who threw at Chase Utley. This is the guy who threw at Alcides Escobar in ‘15 World Series and set the tone. You can hate Noah. But calling him soft is counterfactual.
"He’s coming off Tommy John surgery. He’s got limitations because of it. I don’t know those limitations. I would be shocked to my core if he asked to not pitch vs Mets. Not saying it isn’t possible. But highly unlikely. And assuming he’s ducking anyone is silly."
Syndergaard wasn't in line to pitch against the Mets last weekend, and instead went seven innings in a win over the Reds on Monday. That was the first time that the 29-year-old had pitched on four days' rest all season. Given both that he was coming off of Tommy John surgery and that the Angels only have Shohei Ohtani pitch every six days, Syndergaard hadn't been on the typical once-every-five-days schedule as an Angel.
It's entirely possible -- if not probable -- that the Phillies are just being cautious with one of their trade deadline pickups. But all parties involved had to know what the optics would be of pushing his next start back, preventing him from pitching against the Mets at all this regular season.
For what it's worth, this probably would have been less of a story if Syndergaard had pitched against the Mets and gotten shelled than it's turned out to be with him not pitching against his former employer. Perhaps that's evidence that it really is just a coincidence that his next start got pushed back. Or maybe it was a miscalculation on his part. We'll probably never know for sure.