ATLANTA -- Exercising his right to as much information as possible, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard will travel to California for a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation. Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek diagnosed Syndergaard with a partially torn right lat muscle this week.
The industry-wide expectation is that Syndergaard will miss at least two months with his injury, as teammate Steven Matz did in 2015. His recovery could be longer than that, but the Mets -- who have been reticent to offer specifics on Syndergaard's timetable -- won't have a clear idea until his muscle heals and he begins rehabbing.
Syndergaard initially reported a bout of right shoulder and biceps discomfort early last week. The Mets scratched him from his start last Thursday against the Braves, offering him an MRI that he declined. Syndergaard instead threw a bullpen session and said he felt fine, only to exit Sunday's 23-5 loss to the Nationals in the second inning due to right lat pain.
The ace of New York's staff, Syndergaard is 1-2 with a 3.29 ERA in five starts this season, with 32 strikeouts and two walks in 27 1/3 innings.
In his absence, the Mets announced Wednesday that right-hander Rafael Montero will start Friday against the Marlins. A former top prospect, the 26-year-old Montero owns a 1.74 ERA through two starts at Triple-A Las Vegas, with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 10 1/3 innings. But he posted a 9.45 ERA in six relief outings for the Mets in April, and holds a 5.51 career big league ERA.
"The Marlins are a team he has had some success against," Mets manager Terry Collins said, referencing Montero's lifetime 2.50 ERA in nine outings against Miami. "He's got to use his changeup. He's got to keep his slider down. I'm not worried necessarily about velocity. It's more location with him."
If the Montero experiment does not prove fruitful, the Mets could sign rotation help from outside the organization. But prominent free agents such as Doug Fister or Tim Lincecum would need weeks to ramp up for big league games -- and by that time, the Mets hope in-house candidates Matz and Seth Lugo will be ready to come off the disabled list.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.