Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Destroyer

OK. Now it feels like the Mets are finally in business. Now that they're back in the National League, playing teams in their own division, they're finally starting to stick feet in opponent's asses.

The Mets 5-2 win on Monday night started and ended with a pair of most-welcome Home Runs from David Wright, but really, the story of the game was Noah Syndergaard, because when he pitches, he's almost always the story of the game.

Prior to the game, a wonderful article by Mark Simon was making the rounds in the group of Mets fans I have a constant e-mail string with. The crux of the article wasn't so much that Syndergaard has been really good, but what's making him just be so dominant in the early going. Others have touched on it as well but it's more than just his stuff, it's the cognitive understanding he has of his talent, and the understanding he has of his role on the team. Back in 2013, when Harvey was off to his beastly start, it seemed shocking if he got touched up for 3 runs. I think when Syndergaard has an off day—and the law of averages dictates that he'll have to at some point—it's probably going to be monumentally jarring. Like the planets will have to align for this to happen. Or at least it seems that way.

Syndergaard's clinical demolition of the Phillies, 7 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 8 strikeouts, seems to be the norm. I was late tuning in and so I didn't see just how the Phillies scored their one run, but I'd have to imagine it happened in some weird, flukish kind of way, like there were a few floaters that were well-placed and fell in. That's what happened to him against Miami last week. When he does find himself in a jam, generally he just reaches back and blows the next batter out of the box. This has happened a few times too.

Unlike last week, the Mets were able to back Syndergaard with the necessary offense to win the game. After Wright's 1st inning Home Run—which should come as a surprise to no one since Wright tends to behave in Philly as graciously as Ryan Howard does in New York—they were mostly handcuffed by Jerad Eickhoff, who relied on a vicious curveball to counter Syndergaard's heat. Again, it's these Philly pitchers that you have to watch out for. Only in the 6th when Lucas Duda drove in Cespedes did the Mets regain the lead against Eickhoff, but then in the 8th and 9th, they started banging out more Home Runs off the Phillies' awful bullpen to put the game out of reach. Duda chimed in with his 1st of the year, Neil Walker hit one, and Wright hit his second in the 9th, because Philadelphia.

Still, Syndergaard remains the story. At 3 starts in, he's run off 29 strikeouts and an 0.90 ERA and, well, it sort of seems like he's just getting warmed up. There's always the general anxiety that comes from watching a pitcher be this good with his sort of stuff but for now, I think we just have to enjoy the ride.

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