Surprise injury to Mets' ace reminds everyone that NL East is a two-horse race

New York Mets starter Kodai Senga won't be ready for Opening Day, putting the Phillies' NL East rival at a disadvantage before the season even starts.

Philadelphia Phillies NL East rivals, the New York Mets, have lost their ace Kodai Senga to begin the 2024 season
Philadelphia Phillies NL East rivals, the New York Mets, have lost their ace Kodai Senga to begin the 2024 season / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages

Tragedy strikes once again for the Philadelphia Phillies' rival, the New York Mets, as their stud starting pitcher, Kodai Senga, has suffered a shoulder strain five weeks before the start of the 2024 season.

The official diagnosis is a moderate right posterior capsule strain, per Anthony DiComo of Senga felt symptoms at the beginning of spring training and was open with the training staff about his pain. That led to an MRI, which revealed a capsule strain.

Due to the extent of the injury, the Mets have shut Senga down until he is 100 percent. That means he will not be ready for Opening Day, and the Mets will have to rearrange their starting rotation as Senga was supposed to be their Opening Day starter against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns spoke on the recent development.

"We don't expect him to be ready for Opening Day," Stearns said, per ESPN. "So at this point we would expect him to begin the season on the IL. ...but I do expect him to make a bunch of starts this year."

Senga injury puts the Mets at an even bigger disadvantage in the NL East

This isn't the worst news of all time for Mets fans, especially because Senga won't need surgery, but it's definitely not good. Senga is in his second year with the Mets and an important part of their rotation, and they needed to start the season hot.

The Mets ended the 2023 season in fourth place in the NL East with a 75-87 record. Even with all of the in-season woes, their one bright spot was Kodai Senga. Senga pitched 29 games, finishing with a record of 12-7 and a 2.98 ERA. He was the best pitcher on the Mets by far last year.

DiComo also reported that the Mets do not plan to sign a replacement, but that a pitcher on the current roster will get an opportunity.

That's great news for the Phillies. Even with Senga out for the foreseeable future, the Mets will not be going after free agents like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, who are still available for the taking. Even if the Phillies don't end up signing either, it's best that they are not pitching in the same division.

The Mets' offseason has been mostly quiet, similar to the Phillies. They signed a few guys to one-year deals, including outfielder Harrison Bader and right-hander Luis Severino. However, even with the addition of Severino, the Mets' biggest hole still lies in their starting rotation. They were just as unlucky as the Phillies in the Yamamoto sweepstakes and seem unwilling to pay for anyone else.

With that being said, the loss of Senga and the sudden weakening of the Mets' starting rotation forecasts the NL East as being a two-horse race once again — the Phillies versus the Atlanta Braves, just the way we like it.

The Phillies open the regular season against the Braves and don't play the Mets until the middle of May. With the current rosters look, it's safe to say the Phillies and the Braves will be the most competitive teams in the NL East.