Terry Collins is confident in Syndergaard, Conforto, and is counting on them
The Mets are faced with the always daunting task of winning four of the next five games in the World Series, thanks to dropping the first two games in Kansas City.
The Mets are down, but they’re not out, and Terry Collins says his team has remained confident despite he troubling position they’re in entering Game 3 on Friday night.
“We’re still excited. We still have a lot of confidence,” Collins said on Friday afternoon at Citi Field. “After the game you could hear the conversation; we’ve been in tough holes before. We’re used to it. We’re used to playing with adversity, like a lot of Big League clubs. And I thought Michael put it pretty good yesterday when he said, ‘You’ve got to win four anyway. Start now.'”
Collins will send Noah Syndergaard in a must-win Game 3 on Friday night against the Royals. He was fair in five starts following a loss during the regular season, going 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA in such situations in 2015.
But Collins likes his chances with the big right-hander on the mound for his club.
Said Collins, “We’re positive. We certainly like Noah going tonight. We think he’ll pitch well. We have to start swinging the bats and getting some runs to work.”
Syndergaard said on Thursday he plans to stick to what made him emerge as a rookie of the year candidate in the National League, suggesting he will rely on his 100 mph fastball for success against one of the league’s foremost fastball hitting teams.
“Obviously, they’re going against us with their strengths and their strength is how aggressive they are,” Syndergaard explained on Thursday. “I can’t be too focused on that, because I still have to be able to pitch to my strengths. I was able to watch Matt, deGrom and see how they approach their hitters, and I saw how aggressive they were, and devised a game plan for myself.”
It’s easier said than done of course, given the stage, the implications for the franchise, and what is at stake for the Mets in this series.
But Collins is not worried about Syndergaard’s emotions heading into the biggest start in his life. And he credits the experience he gained earlier in the postseason for his ability to be prepared for this start.
“I’m not worried at all about tonight, about his emotions,” Collins said. “One of the things that we thought was going to help a lot of our guys, Matt, Jacob, Matz, Conforto, is to play in this kind of a scenario where you find out it’s still a game. The noise is a little louder, a lot more people, but it’s still the game. You’ve still got to go out and execute.
“I think what Noah did early in the postseason set that up. Hey, look, I belong here, I can pitch here, and even though it’s a bigger, brighter stage I’m good enough. And I think that’s helped him a lot. That confidence, when you have that kind of stuff, really makes a difference.”
If Syndergaard is on, it won’t matter what the statistics say about the Royals. It’s more of a matter of whether or not the MEts will be able to conjure up any offense against Yordano Ventura.
In order to do that, Terry Collins has decided to play the better paper matchup by exploiting Ventura’s .734 opposing OPS against left-handed hitting.
That is at least part of the motivation to have Michael Conforto back in left field as he was for Game 1.
“We met today, coaches got together today and we talked about tonight and Ventura and what we’ve got to do,” Collins explained.
Collins said another part of the motivation to use Conforto was that the configuration being run out for Game 3 was what they used to win games against right-handed pitching all year.
“This is the team we won with,” he explained. “This is the team that’s had most success against right-handed pitching; this is the team we should go with. has had very, very good at-bats, and has nothing to show for it.
Indeed, it’s hard to believe Conforto is just 1-for-20 given his swings and some of the bad luck he’s encountered. But Collins said that even if Conforto breaks out, the Mets need more from the rest of the lineup in order to be successful.
“Certainly we can’t put what we’re doing offensively on the shoulders of Michael Conforto,” the manager said.
Is going back to their grass roots enough to dig themselves out of this 0-2 hole?
It can’t hurt to try.