Could Noah Syndergaard find himself in the bullpen, if the Mets qualify for the playoffs?
At various points during the last year, the Mets have volleyed the idea of transitioning Noah Syndergaard out of the rotation and into a late-inning reliever.
The belief was Syndergaard’s upper-90s fastball and upper-80s breaking pitches would play well in an eighth inning role, as his swing-and-miss stuff could provide some badly needed shutdown innings late in games.
But Syndergaard has remained in the starting rotation, making all of his 19 big league starts as a starting pitcher this season.
Could Syndergaard role change? That depends, but according to David Lennon of Newsday, the Mets are once again considering the possibility of transitioning Syndergaard into a late-inning reliever in the playoffs.
A lot of it depends on how the Mets might be positioned to open the Division Series. Lennon says the team is legitimately concerned about Syndergaard’s problems on the road despite earning his first win away from Citi Field with his uneven start on Tuesday.
For instance, if the Mets begin a playoff series at home, they might use Syndergaard out of the bullpen to avoid having him start a game either in Dodger Stadium or AT&T Park. But if the Mets start a playoff series on the road, they might be inclined to have Syndergaard start a game three at home where he has been dominant.
Steven Matz could also play a role, as the team has been clear from the time he was called up he will remain a starting pitcher. If he is in a playoff rotation along with Jon Niese, they would be able to start to left-handlers in any given series back-to-back.
Moving him into a relief role in October might not be the worst thing in the world. He could not only plug a hole, but could curtail his innings count as well, an area he is already pitching in uncharted territory and could be hitting a physical and mental wall as a result. But for now, they need to figure out how to get Syndergaard to the point they’ll need to make this decision.
And that road has him in the starting rotation down the stretch of the season.