Noah Syndergaard is not the first pitcher to ask for a personal catcher, and he won’t be the last. The issue is legitimate if not practical. Let’s drill down to find some answers…
No doubt, Noah Syndergaard recalls that last year Jacob deGrom asked for and was granted the privilege of having a personal. So naturally, he says if it’s okay for him, then why not me? Well Noah, do you also recall that your teammate was well on his way toward winning a Cy Young last season?
The point is that personal catchers for pitchers is a rarity in major league baseball – and never precedent-setting.
Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver had an unbeaten run with St. Louis and Philadelphia, and Greg Maddux loved throwing to Eddie Perez in Atlanta. But again, look at the names of the pitchers here. They’re both in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Syndergaard? There’s not so much as having an even outside chance of getting the Cooperstown at the rate his career is going.
Syndergaard, in effect, went to the boss an asked for a raise, which is commonplace in any industry. Politely, but firmly, the increase was turned down.
This should be the end the story, but it isn’t because two nights ago Noah Syndergaard threw one – just one – bad pitch – not to MVP candidate Cody Bellinger or veteran shortstop Corey Seager but to a nobody named Gavin Lux.
The pitch was slammed for a three-run home run and accounted for the difference in the Mets 9-2 loss to the Dodgers Friday night.
Syndergaard Loses Credibility
Now, who called that pitch? Was it Wilson Ramos? Or was it a shake off by Syndergaard in favor of a pitch he wanted to throw? We will probably never know. But in the end, it makes no difference what pitch was thrown. Instead, it’s all about the execution of the pitch. Did Syndergaard throw the pitch with the necessary conviction to get the hitter out?
And on this particular pitch, whether a four-seamer, slider, change-up, or knuckleball, it was Syndergaard who threw the pitch in the wheelhouse of Lux, not Ramos. Actually, it was a curveball that veered its way into the outside-middle of the strike zone. Not a bad pitch and sometimes you have to give credit to the hitter, even if it’s someone named Gavin Lux.
That’s the first consideration. Here’s another, and it’s just another question. Knowing in advance that Ramos was going to be in the Mets lineup that night, did Syndergaard and Ramos do the necessary prep before the game in deciding how they (plural) were going to pitch each of the Dodger hitters?
And if they did, did they get far enough down the Dodgers lineup and bench players to find Gavin Lux?
Moreover, in between innings when neither Ramos or Syndergaard was scheduled to bat, did they converse in the dugout, refreshing their selection of pitches on the hitters the Dodgers were sending to the plate the next inning – as well as possible pinch-hitters who might be called on by Dodger’s manager Dave Roberts?
If not, they damn well should have been communicating throughout the game in this manner.
Here’s another question. Where was Mets pitching coach Phil Regan involved throughout the process, both pre-game and in-game? Again, I have no answers, only a relevant question. If not, he sure as hell should have been involved.
Some Things Can’t Be Smoothed Over And Fixed
I’m afraid the whole scenario sums up to Noah Syndergaard not being a fit on the New York Mets. There is no way to smooth things over and say Syndergaard did not deliver a slap in the face to Wilson Ramos.
And to force Mickey Callaway, with all he has on his plate now, to have to tend to egos – because that’s what this is about – is a slap in the face to the Mets and the 25 men in the clubhouse as well.
From where I sit, this closes the book on this incident. Nevertheless, the sting and the stink will permeate the air for a good long while…