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Mets ace Kodai Senga receives shoulder injection, shut down for three weeks

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22:  Kodai Senga #34 of the New York Mets poses for a portrait on New York Mets Photo Day at Clover Park on February 22, 2024 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The New York Mets now have a rough timeline for Kodai Senga's recovery from a right shoulder injury.

Manager Carlos Mendoza told the media Sunday that the team's ace starting pitcher had returned to New York from their spring training home in Port St. Lucie to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in his shoulder. He has been shut down for three weeks. Depending on how Senga's shoulder feels after that, he'll resume a throwing program.

Since spring training is barely a week old, Senga will be starting pretty much at the beginning when his shoulder is feeling better. A full spring ramp-up typically takes six weeks, so Senga will likely spend at least the first month of the regular season on the injured list. And that's the best-case scenario.

This is a setback for the Mets, especially since Senga was likely going to be their Opening Day starter, but it gives them a chance to find something they might need: a sixth starter.

A reliable sixth starter might be the key to keeping Senga's numbers up in 2024. In 2023, he put up a 2.98 ERA with 202 strikeouts over 166 1/3 innings. He hadn't pitched that many innings in a season since 2019, averaging around 128 innings from 2020 to '22 in Japan, but the Mets were able to manage that jump by having Senga pitch once a week (every sixth day, which is how often starters pitch in NBP) instead of every fifth day, as is common in MLB. He made 17 starts on five days' rest in 2023, compared to just three on four days' rest.

To make that arrangement work, the Mets need another starter in their rotation. So the glass-half-full take on Senga's injury is that his absence will force the Mets to find a reliable sixth starter to keep around after Senga comes back. That doesn't do much to cushion the blow of losing their ace for at least the first month of the season, but there really aren't a lot of ways to spin that positively.