The Mets were so close to having a legitimate starting rotation heading into 2014. Even without their flame throwing ace Matt Harvey, they were still looking like they would be able to field a competent 5-man rotation. But then again, they’re the Mets, so something was bound to fall apart.

Just a day after the organization named him their Opening Day starter, Jon Niese has been sent in for an MRI on what is being described as shoulder soreness. Now, some upper arm discomfort wouldn’t normally send off alarms, but when you’re talking about a guy coming off rehab for a partially torn rotator cuff, smoke certainly could mean fire.

If Niese is to miss any serious length of time for the Mets it could prove to be absolutely devastating. Even sans Harvey, the Mets rotation is far and away the strength of their club. Niese is a proven stellar arm and Zack Wheeler could be on the precipice of stardom entering his first full season. Add the consistency of a Dillion Gee, the steroid driven success of Bartolo Colon (unfortunately) and you have four above average starters in the front of your rotation. If Mejia can stay healthy, or if John Lannan bounces back, then you could be talking about a top ten rotation in the major leagues. But without Niese, all of that falls by the wayside.

The worst part about this injury is what it could mean for Noah Syndergaard, the Mets next great young arm. Syndergaard, in my opinion, should be in the Mets starting rotation as soon as he passes whatever arbitration related road blocks that are in front of him. But, if Niese winds up on the disabled list to start the year and the Mets get off to a slow start, then the front office will surely push back Syndergaard’s debut, ensuring the Mets have another disappointing season, and creating a situation where Sydergaard is less major league ready in 2015, when Harvey returns and contention is within reach. Some might think that an injury to Niese may force Sandy Alderson to accelerate the young stud’s timeline, but unfortunately that’s not how this franchise operates. After all, Mets management is already operating off the assumption that they cannot and will not compete this year.

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