Noah Syndergaard is an evolved pitcher, ready for the big stage in LA
Noah Syndergaard will make his postseason debut on Saturday night in Los Angeles, along with his second start of the season at Dodger Stadium.
Syndergaard took a no-decision in his start against the Dodgers on July 3, during which he allowed only a run in six innings in a 2-1 win.
Syndergaard generally struggled on the road in his rookie year, going 2-5 with a 4.23 ERA in four starts away from Citi Field, although he finished his season allowing just five runs in his last three road starts.
“To me it’s just all about getting comfortable out there on the mound, on the road,” Syndergaard explained on Friday. “I feel like on the last couple starts I had on the road I had a lot of success, lot of comforts. The big thing for me was being able to execute my pitches and become more of a pitcher, not a thrower.”
Syndergaard feels his struggles on the road were attributable to bad luck rather than issues with comfort.
“I felt like my stuff was there,” he said. “It’s just a couple series of bad events happened and I got a little unlucky, and it’s pretty easy to pitch at home when you have the Mets fans. I think they’re the best fans in baseball.”
His evolution from a thrower into a pitcher comes with the understanding that the opposition can hit his fastball, and he has to off-set it with his curveball and change-up.
“Big league hitters can catch up to the fastball to no matter how hard it is,” he said. “So as long as you’re able to change speeds, I feel like I’m going to have success [Saturday] night.”
The right-hander from Mansfield, Texas feels his turning point in 2015 came in his start against the Nationals at Citi Field in early August.
“It was a great atmosphere there. It was a huge series, so I felt like that was when I made the jump into becoming a big league pitcher,” Syndergaard opined.
He knows the atmosphere is going to be a lot different at Dodger Stadium from the last time he pitched in Los Angeles in early July, but he’s looking forward to the challenge of pitching in the playoffs and in that ballpark under those conditions.
“I can’t imagine what [the atmosphere] going to be [on Saturday],” he said. “We’ve all been looking forward to it, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Meanwhile, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is now tasked with having his team beat another imposing and hard throwing Met pitcher, which his team failed to do on Friday night.
But Mattingly isn’t fretting at the notion of having to break through against Syndergaard.
“Each day is individual,” the Dodger manager said. “Syndergaard’s a little different than deGrom. He just mixes a little bit different. We’ll just look at it and put the best lineup out there for [Saturday].”
Syndergaard went 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA in 150 big league innings over 24 starts in 2015. He recorded a 2.93 ERA while striking out 37 batters with only two walks in his final 27 2/3 innings, a span of four starts.
But Syndergaard has struggled in the first innings of his games, posting a 5.25 ERA in 24 starts in that inning.
But Terry Collins is confident Syndergaard has gotten past those first inning woes despite allowing three of his 14 first inning runs against the Yankees just two weeks ago at Citi Field.
“I think his last couple starts he’s been much better at it,” Collins said on Saturday. “There have been some games where he’s rushed, and therefore made a couple mistakes and been hurt by it. But it’s part of our job, the catcher’s job to keep this guy in a good tempo, and we’ll try to do that tonight.”