Noah Syndergaard is down, but the Mets still have their best pitcher

Yesterday was not kind to the New York Mets, as they not only lost a historic game to the Washington Nationals 23-5, but also lost what some call the ace of their pitching staff, Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard partially tore his right lat, this coming in the wake of a crazy week for him in which he was scratched from his start due to discomfort in his bicep. Later, he refused an MRI, and gave attitude to the media. After all that, Syndergaard has landed on the 10 day DL, but who knows when he will be back.

Injuries continue for the Mets, as they are also without their best player, Yoenis Cespedes who is also on the 10 day DL with a hamstring injury, with no timetable for his return. April was an awful month for the Mets, who had high expectations going into the season. They currently sit last in the NL East, with a lot of baseball still to be played.

Injuries continue for this team, but they still have a very important piece who can lead the Mets until they start to get healthy. That player is Jacob deGrom. Many call Noah Syndergaard the ace of the Mets’ pitching staff, but no pitcher on the Mets staff has come through in a bigger way than Jacob deGrom. Let’s rewind to Syndergaard’s rookie season. It was that year (2015), the Mets made a miraculous run to win the NL pennant. The leader for them in the postseason was Jacob deGrom. In the NLDS, deGrom won 2 road games for the Mets against 2 of the best pitchers in baseball, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He finished the series with a 2-0 record and an ERA of 1.38. That series showed the guts of deGrom, yet he does not get the respect he deserves. deGrom finished the 2015 postseason with a 3-1 record, a 2.88 ERA, and 29 strikeouts in 4 games started.

deGrom thus far has accomplished more at the big league level than Syndergaard, or any pitcher on the Mets staff. Who could forget deGrom’s all star game appearance in 2015, when he struck out the side on 10 pitches. Or, the fact that he won rookie of the year in 2014 finishing that season 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA, a season that surprised many. Arguably the most dominant deGrom has ever looked was a start in 2014, when he struck out the first 8 batters of the game against the Miami Marlins, which was in his rookie year. With all these accomplishments, deGrom is still not looked at as the team’s ace. Is it because he had an off year in 2016, his worst year statistically led by a 3.04 ERA (which is well above average), that was cut short to injury?

It’s hard to understand why Jacob deGrom is not known as the ace of the Mets pitching staff. There are games where he looks really bad on the mound, yet still finishes the game allowing 2 runs over 7 innings. That’s the sign of a great pitcher. This is not a knock on Noah Syndergaard, who is still a very young, talented pitcher, who has the potential to be the best. A lot of pressure is being put on him in New York, and the guy wants nothing more than to win. He had the roughest week of his MLB career, and now people are starting to question him, and calling for the Mets to make changes. The Mets are struggling, and the rails continue to fall every week with injuries. But, right now they still have their ace pitcher healthy, and that’s Jacob deGrom. deGrom will need to lead this team in May and June, and hope the team will start to become healthy by the summer. Jacob deGrom could show the baseball universe that he is the most underrated pitcher in baseball, and take a lot of pressure of Noah Syndergaard. Then, this Mets rotation could be a force.

All stats via Baseball-Reference.

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Preview of the National League Wild Card game: New York Mets vs San Francisco Giants

The stage is set. Noah Syndergaard will face Madison Bumgarner in the National League Wild Card game; a battle between 2 of the best pitchers in baseball. For the Giants, they expect to win because it’s an even year. In 2010, 2012, and 2014 the Giants have won the World Series. So it only makes sense that they win it in 2016 right?  The Mets will have a chance to end that streak, and get a chance to rematch the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs.

The Mets have a few edges in this matchup, and one of the most important ones is the home field advantage. This game will be played at Citi Field, so it is the fans’ job to be loud and into the game, supporting their team. Met fans are very excited. Keep in mind this is only the 2nd time in franchise history they have made it to the playoffs in back to back seasons. I think the Mets could feed off of an excited crowd, and use it to their advantage. If the Giants jump and score on Syndergaard early, they will take the fans right out of the game.

Noah Syndergaard had a great season, but the Giants have the starting pitcher advantage. Madison Bumgarner went on an insane run in 2014, leading the Giants to a World Series victory and receiving the World Series MVP that year. He is a 3 time World Series champion. The reality is he does not know how to lose in the playoffs, which will make a Met victory very tough. The Mets need to find a way to jump on Bumgarner early. If they can get him off of his game early, this could be their day.

Another issue with Bumgarner is he’s a lefty, and some of the Mets’ core hitters are lefties including Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, and Lucas Duda. These guys might have a tough time against Bumgarner, but they need to stay patient. It is very important to get Bumgarner’s pitch count up, regardless of how many runs they score. The Mets should want to face a very weak Giants bullpen, which means getting Bumgarner out of the game. It seems the Giants blow a save every night, and that is why it is important for the Mets to keep it close. I do not see them running away with the game as long as Bumgarner is on the mound.

Then there’s the x-factor: Noah Syndergaard. If he matches Madison Bumgarner, the Mets should win this game. The Mets have the edge in bullpen, so if this game is close late with Bumgarner out of the game, this game could fall in the Mets’ favor. It is utmost pivotal that Syndergaard pitches a gem. We know he can, we have seen it before. In 2015, he pitched and won the Mets’ only win in the World Series. He has to know the Mets will not score many runs going into this game, and if he wants to win, the same must happen to the Giants.

Madison Bumgarner worries me. It’s a 1 game Wild Card, it’s a wash. Either team could win this game. The Giants have the starting pitching edge, but Noah Syndergaard can be just as good. The Mets have to take advantage of this game being played in queens. A win in this game would be huge for the franchise. If they win this game, anything can happen from there. The Mets are one of the hottest teams in baseball, and the Giants have been one of the coldest teams since the All Star break. So Mets fans, enjoy this game. This pitching matchup is very good for baseball. If Noah Syndergaard out duels Madison Bumgarner, he will make a name for himself if he hasn’t already. The whole season comes down to 1 game, and Mets fans are pumped up about it.