Noah Syndergaard only gave up four runs tonight, and it is an oversimplification to say the problem is the Mets didn’t score for him. But, something just isn’t right.
The issue isn’t him not being able to throw hard. He still throws very hard, but velocity isn’t the most variable for a pitcher. A successful pitcher needs movement, location and velocity, with speed being the third most important. You can even drop that to fourth if you want to include having a variety of secondary pitches.
While throwing in the high 90s and even touching triple digits in the Mets’ 4-3 loss at Detroit, Syndergaard, as he has been for much of the season – or at least since the issue of his bone spur surfaced – is far from pitch efficient.
Syndergaard threw 112 pitches, but only worked six innings. It was the fourth straight game in which he threw over 100 pitches yet didn’t go past the sixth. He hasn’t gone seven innings since July 3; of his 21 starts, he’s gone seven or more innings just eight times.
I don’t care Syndergaard is throwing a lot of pitches; I care he’s not efficient or effective with them. I care he seems to be running in place.
“It has been a battle,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He’s had to work very hard. You have to learn how to pitch at this level and through tough times.”
While much is made of Syndergaard’s overpowering stuff, he’s only had four double-digit strikeout games with his last being June 15 against Pittsburgh nine starts ago.
We’ve been hearing a lot of the high number of foul balls off him (26 tonight), which comes from not being able to put away hitters. His curveball didn’t surface until the fifth inning. Until then, it was mostly straight fastballs – mostly to the outside against right-handed pitchers.
“I’m thinking right now I’m trying to be too fine with my pitches,” Syndergaard said. “It’s like I’m throwing darts out there. It’s frustrating because the past month I feel that I have the stuff to dominate, but it hasn’t been clicking.”
Do you remember when Syndergaard went high and tight during the World Series? Then he challenged the Royals saying they could find him 60 feet, six inches from the plate.
Collins insists Syndergaard still has swagger, but you rarely see him work the inner half of the plate. You don’t see that biting slider. You don’t see him effectively holding runners (Ian Kinsler singled, stole his way to third and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s single in the first). You don’t see a lot of the things that earned him a comic book hero nickname.
The problem isn’t 100 percent the bone spur because of the velocity, but it makes you wonder if the pain prevents him from being what he needs to be, and what he has been.
Syndergaard is still a young stud, but he’s not as polished as Justin Verlander was last night and has been for years. Hope Syndergaard was taking notes.
Syndergaard was the night’s biggest storyline. The others were the non-existent offense and Collins’ lineup.
THE SILENT BATS: A positive is the Mets only left three runners on base. The flip side is they barely sniffed Verlander.
Mets hitters only had five hits and one walk and struck out 12 times. Kelly Johnson hit a two-run homer in the fourth and the Mets scratched out a cosmetic run in the ninth.
THE LINEUP: I haven’t agreed with Collins on a lot of things lately, including last night’s lineup. Your best power hitter – Yoenis Cespedes – is out for at least two weeks, so one would think Curtis Granderson would be dropped down to the middle of the order.
Arguably the hottest Mets’ hitter in July was Wilmer Flores, but he sat again.
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