When he’s on, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard looks unstoppable on the mound. Those flashes of brilliance need to become more than flashes. They need to be who he is.
When New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard is at his best, there are few pitchers in baseball who compare. He throws hard enough to blow pitches by batters and isn’t afraid to attack anyone who steps into the box.
Of course, this hasn’t always led to the best results. Syndergaard’s season numbers for 2019 aren’t particularly good, but we have seen those flashes of brilliance from years past.
Before September of last season, Syndergaard never threw a nine-inning complete game in his professional baseball life. Since then, he has tossed three complete games including a pair of shutouts. We got to see him toss one against the Cincinnati Reds this year in a 1-0 victory led by a solo shot off his own bat.
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We’ve seen some of the best from Syndergaard in his most recent outings. Prior to his loss against the Miami Marlins in the (hopefully) end of the Mets’ offensive meltdown last weekend, he held the division-rival Nationals hitless through five innings. Unfortunately, a Wilmer Difo single in the sixth broke up the no-no. A few batters later, Victor Robles smacked a two-run home run to destroy the shutout.
Other than this one inning, Syndergaard was on-point. He didn’t rely on strikeouts either with only 6 in his 8 innings of work. Efficient with his pitches, Thor threw only 102 on the night.
As brilliant as he looked in this outing, let’s not forget the struggles he has faced regularly throughout the season. Among his 10 starts, only 4 qualify as quality outings. He has made it through five innings each time out but has surrendered 4 or more runs six times.
This isn’t the Noah Syndergaard we’re accustomed to. Because of his reliance on throwing hard, he’s predictable. Batters are also getting better at facing hard-throwers because they have a chance to practice all nine innings with the parade of relievers who step out of the bullpen.
Syndergaard is still an evolving pitcher. This season looks like the year where something may click and his repertoire becomes a lot deadlier. It’s easy to tell how much he doesn’t enjoy losing and pitching poorly. He has done both enough in 2019 to the point where I believe he takes the next step.
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Those excellent outings we get from Syndergaard need to become more routine than anything else. He doesn’t need to pitch complete games, but he does need to continue to go deep. The threat of seeing Syndergaard for all 27 outs is a terrifying one for opposing teams. Whatever he can do to ensure he’s not just a five-inning-a-start arm near the top of the rotation needs to happen.