Let’s put the brakes on this conversation about the Mets having a cupcake schedule, and while we’re at it, Noah Syndergaard being a Cy Young Award candidate. All games are vital at this point, and the last thing the Mets need is for their best pitcher to respond as poorly as Syndergaard did Monday night in a game they had to win – and with him getting an extra day of rest.
“It stings a little bit,” said a dejected Syndergaard. “These last two weeks, every win is critical. It’s a disappointment. I didn’t go out there and get my job done.”
I love that. No excuses. Pointing a finger only at himself.
Syndergaard asked for the day and produced the third-shortest start of his career, giving up five runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings in the 7-3 loss to Atlanta. You knew Syndergaard and the Mets were in trouble with his 35-pitch second inning. He encored that with 29 more in the third. Syndergaard finished with 99, of which 26 were foul balls.
“I lost control of my fastball and couldn’t get my slider over,” said Syndergaard. “Baseball is s funny game. Once you think you have it figured out, it knocks you down.”
After a rough stretch in midseason where his pitch count mounted, Syndergaard had been very good over the past month, giving up four runs in his previous five starts and going 4-1 in his last five decisions.
His location had been better, as was his slider. He was pitching the way an ace is supposed to pitch.
“He’s our guy,” manager Terry Collins said. “Certainly [Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman] have stepped up and done a great job, but you’re going to go into the playoffs looking at Noah Syndergaard as the guy. If there’s a big game to be pitched, he’s the guy you’re going to turn to.”
Syndergaard is lined up to start the wild-card game, as is San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw and St. Louis’ Carlos Martinez. At this point, all might be slotted ahead of Syndergaard as a Cy Young favorite.
We saw all the foul balls again tonight, an indication he didn’t have sharp movement on his pitches and couldn’t put away hitters.
Collins said Syndergaard was throwing in the high 90s, but again, velocity isn’t nearly as important and movement and location. And, no, nothing was bothering him physically.That wasn’t the case,” Collins said. “He wasn’t making any pitches.”
“That wasn’t the case,” Collins said. “He wasn’t making any pitches.”
With the way the schedule pans out, Syndergaard will get two more starts. He can’t afford to let one more get away.
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