The Mets have had their share frustration with talented starters who never quite seem to “get it.” Noah Syndergaard doesn’t seem to fit the bill, but…
Mets two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom labored through four seasons in the organization’s minor league system before he reached the big club at age 26.
When deGrom joined the Mets in 2014, it was as if a light immediately came on, leaving those four years solidly behind him, while emerging as a pitcher with an idea behind every pitch he threw.
The Mets and perhaps deGrom himself can’t explain how it happened, except to say that many hours of practice in refining his craft were commonplace, and a sight regularly seen by fans before and after Mets games.
And no one can explain the mental strength and poise it takes for deGrom to set a goal for himself to place every warmup pitch he throws before a start low and on the outside portion of the plate.
And how, if he misses just once, he gets mad at himself.
This is especially remarkable when you consider that deGrom is only an accidental pitcher.
Not everyone, of course, is Jacob deGrom, especially when it comes to the mental side of baseball that he has mastered.
Mets 2020 Project Number One
And so it is that when the Mets and their fans look at Noah Syndergaard, there is wonderment as to why he can’t be deGrom – or even better.
Listed at 6-6, 240lb, possessing God-given abilities to throw a baseball, with a decent track record under his belt, and soon to be a wealthy young man – when is that breakout season coming?
More than anything, the answer to the probe lies in the first line of the above paragraph and the word “throw.”
We know that throwing a baseball is a purely physical act. Wind ‘er up and let ‘er go.
As Syndergaard and so many others have demonstrated, you can have a pretty good career, do better than most, and make a few bucks as a thrower.
Syndergaard’s lifetime record at seventeen games over .500 (47-30) with a 3.31 ERA is nothing to degrade.
But the haunting question remains – why were the ten wins Syndergaard had last year, not 14 or 15? Or the thirteen wins he had in 2018, not 17 or 18?
The Mets Need The Solid Number Two
The Mets will take and need whatever they can get from Syndergaard before he reaches free agency at the end of the 2020 season.
For Syndergaard, an extra two or three wins this season will set him up for an offseason in which he will at least be on a par with the vigor Zack Wheeler was sought after before he signed with the Phillies.
Bump Syndergaard’s total up by eight or nine wins, and the ante skyrockets for potential suitors.
That’s all about money. But I think what the Mets and their fans are waiting to see in Syndergaard is the bulldog pride when he goes to the mound – the same as they see when deGrom takes the hill.
Matt Harvey could have been Jacob deGrom. We know the story on that, and we lament the fact Harvey has yet to find a job for 2020, despite having Scott Boras as an agent.
In contrast, Steven Matz can never be Jacob deGrom, even though the challenges he faces are the same as Syndergaard in making the transition from a thrower to a pitcher.
Mets Hoping To Find The Key That Unlocks Syndergaard
Anyone who has watched Noah Syndergaard pitch knows it’s almost like having your breath taken away. Biting 95 mph sliders leave bats on shoulders and up and in 97 mph fastballs are the order of the day.
Except when a lapse in concentration by Syndergaard breaks the spell, and before you know it, there are runners on second and third with nobody out.
Is It As Simple As This?…
A former coach of Syndergaard once said, “He’d throw a no-hitter – if you asked him to.” Well, maybe it’s come to that.
And Luis Rojas needs to approach “Thor,” telling him, “Look, the only way we can do this is if you win nineteen games for us. Now, go out there and do it.”
Is it as kindergarten as that? Not likely. But there isn’t a Mets fan on this planet who doesn’t believe that Syndergaard can make all the difference.
The obvious ensuing question prevails, and it’s the only one that counts. What does Noah Syndergaard think?