ATLANTA -- As Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman prepared for his second plate appearance during Sunday's game in Milwaukee, he learned Mets ace Noah Syndergaard had just exited his start against the Nationals with an injury.
Instead of getting excited about the fact a division rival had just lost arguably the game's most dominant pitcher, Freeman instead was disheartened by what this meant for Syndergaard and the baseball world, which will temporarily be denied the chance to see what the powerful right-hander is capable of doing once every five days.
"This is bad for baseball," Freeman said. "He is one of the top three pitchers in the game. The Mets are obviously feeling it a lot more than we are. But when you're talking about one of the game's best pitchers, you want him out there every fifth day. Having him out there is good for baseball and you want to compete against the best. And actually, the best are Syndergaard and Clayton Kershaw."
Blessed with the ability to throw a 100-mph fastball, a 93-mph slider and 90-mph changeup, Syndergaard has certainly established himself as one of the game's most intimidating and successful pitchers as he's posted MLB's third-best ERA (2.69) since the start of the 2016 season. But the 6-foot-6 Mets hurler will be sidelined indefinitely with a torn right lat muscle suffered during the second inning of Sunday's start at Nationals Park.
Syndergaard was not scheduled to face the Braves during this week's four-game series at SunTrust Park. With the six scoreless innings he completed on Opening Day at Citi Field, he found himself with a 3.92 ERA through four career starts against Atlanta. Freeman has gone 5-for-9 with a double, triple and home run against the Syndergaard, appropriately known as Thor.
"You don't want to see people get hurt," Freeman said. "I don't care if I was 0-for-30 with 30 strikeouts against him, you don't want to see that. He's out there competing. He doesn't want to get hurt and we don't want him to get hurt. There are going to be people that say, 'Good, he got hurt.' That's not how I feel and it's not how 99 percent of baseball feels. It's not good. This is one of those guys when you see him on TV, you stop to watch."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.