Noah Syndergaard was thinking about his pitching performance so far this year, until finally, he said to himself, “That’s enough” – and voila…
Noah Syndergaard and all Major League pitchers have to be the strangest critters ever to inhabit this planet. They turn on a dime from one season to the next, and sometimes even from one inning to the next. They “have it” and then they lose it, or more aptly perhaps their “stuff” gets misplaced as if it gets turned into Lost And Found, left there and reclaimed later.
A pitcher can reproduce the same bad habits for years until, for instance, a pitching coach like Dave Eiland has an epiphany moment, suggesting to Steven Matz he should move to the extreme left of the pitching rubber – and a brand new pitcher is born.
Sometimes it comes about in a different way, as when Noah Syndergaard wakes up one morning and has his own epiphany, telling himself “enough’s enough”. As if to accent the point, he then goes about to cut six inches off his flowing locks, unties the ponytail, and disembowels the Cincinnati Reds with a complete game shutout.
And to further accent the new Noah Syndergaard, he also clocks a home run to left center that had, according to Stat Cast, an exit speed of 105.5 mph for the only run of the game. “Yeah, I felt like I was pretty close to rock bottom,” he said. “So it was kind of an adapt-or-die situation. And it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.” (Newsday)
Correction Noah, it’s not only a weight off your shoulders but it’s one the Mets have been hoping to see lifted off their shoulders for some time now. But what’s the difference – from one start to the next? How and why does a pitcher of the caliber of Noah Syndergaard find himself in a place where the faucet goes from cold to hot in a matter of days – because he says “That’s enough”.
The operative word in baseball is always confidence, and that should be with a capital “C”. Jeff McNeil is not hitting like Ted Williams because he is Ted Williams. Rather, he believes and thinks he is Ted Williams. Pete Alonso trained and prepared himself over the entire offseason knowing, when no one else was sure, that he would be the Pete Alonso we see today – if only given a chance.
And that gets translated when Alonso is named the NL Rookie of the Month for April, which included a 2 for 15 slump that caused some to wonder…
“He knows that he had to be better than what he was,” Mets manager, Mickey Callaway, said about Syndergaard. (Newsday) We’ve all known that and it’s hard to imagine that Noah Syndergaard hasn’t known the same about himself as well.
What If Noah Syndergaard Was A Heart Surgeon
Can you imagine, though, if Noah Syndergaard was a heart surgeon, bringing his won-loss record into the operating room? And it took a wake-up call from himself to produce a successful surgery? Which goes to show that pitching a baseball from 60.5 inches to an ever-narrowing strike zone is one of the hardest things a human can attempt to do.
All the others are reduced to going with (usually) two pitches they depend on for better or worse. Lose one of those pitches and their chances of keeping their team in the game are nil.
Which brings us to the next question…what is the fate of Noah Syndergaard in his next start? Does he retreat to his blah status as a Mets starter in 2019, or does the rage continue as he proves that once comes just before the second – and the third successful start?
One game, good or bad, has little consequence in the space of a 162-game season. But when Syndergaard and the Mets reach the playoffs, everything changes and there is no room for a clunker like the ones the team has been known to have this season. Consistency…
In each of the three starts Noah Syndergaard had before his masterpiece against the Reds, he lasted only five innings, twice surrendering five runs and six runs the other time. Elite pitchers don’t do this.
And therefore, that’s the question before us – is Noah Syndergaard an elite pitcher or merely just one of those good pitchers, who need all the stars to align before they produce a gem?
Dave Eiland, the Mets pitching coach says he’s not worried, telling the New York Post. “I was feeling fine about the rotation a week ago. The reason I was feeling fine was because I trust these guys’ ability, their work ethic, desire and character. If you have those four things, eventually the players are going to be who they are.”
Truth be told, the Mets bats have suddenly gone quiet. But Mets fans can only hope that Eiland has his pulse on the state of the Mets starting staff – and better days lay ahead. Because one good start out of four just ain’t gonna cut it in the National League East…
Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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