Mets: Home run prevention is essential to Noah Syndergaard’s success

Noah Syndergaard led the National League in earned runs allowed during the 2019 season. A big reason why the New York Mets stud gave up so many was because of home runs.

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard finished the 2019 season with a 4.28 ERA. The total is nearly a full run higher than his career total of 3.31 and even larger than his previous season-high of 3.24 he posted as a rookie back in 2015.

While the ERA wasn’t blasphemous, the 94 earned runs he gave up did lead the National League. Because Thor did manage to log nearly 200 innings, the ERA was a little more forgivable.

It’s pretty clear why Syndergaard struggled so much this past season. Home runs obliterated his year. For the first time since his rookie year in 2015, Syndergaard allowed more than 0.5 per nine innings.

From 2016-2018, Syndergaard gave up only 20 home runs. As a rookie, he gave up 19 in 150 innings of work. He gave up even more in 2019, surrendered 24 long balls.

The home run rate, however, does match what he did as a rookie. At 1.1 home runs per nine innings, it’s more than double what he did in 2016 and 2018 when he actually led the National League with the lowest rate in the former. For the sake of argument, we’ll negate the zero home runs he gave up in his short 30.1 inning season back in 2017.

Typically, when a player sees his numbers decline as great as Syndergaard’s did this past season, there’s more than one cause. Not in his case. I’m blaming it all on the four-base hit.

Syndergaard’s WHIP only went up from 1.21 to 1.23 this past season suggesting it was the quality of hits that got the best of him. Number 34 only gave up 9 home runs all year in 2018 yet still saw the base paths cluttered with the opponent. His hits per nine were only 0.2 lower in 2018 when compared to 2019 and the walk rate of 2.3 was identical.

At the end of 2018, I remember hearing a lot of people say Syndergaard had a bad year. I never understood it. He was 13-4 with a 3.03 ERA. Sure, his strikeouts were done and he missed a good portion of the year. Bad, though? Not at all.

Now that he has played out the 2019 year, I can see a little more what people mean. Syndergaard was far from elite in 2018 even if he won a high percentage of his games and kept runners from scoring.

Thor flirted with danger a little too much but managed to escape unscathed because batters just couldn’t figure out how to score runs against him on a consistent basis.

This, of course, changed in 2019 when home runs began to soar off of everyone’s bat—including Syndergaard who hit a pair of home runs during the year.

Whether juiced baseballs, Wilson Ramos behind the plate, or just some bad decision-making led to the home run surge in 2019, it’s obvious what Thor needs to improve.

Turn a few of those home runs into warning track outs or even doubles and Syndergaard’s 2019 looks much different. We can’t do that, unfortunately.

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Instead, it’s up to Syndergaard to figure out how he kept the ball in the yard in the past and revisit what worked so well before hitters figured him out.