Noah Syndergaard got his first start on the mound in Port St. Lucie on Wednesday against the Astros, and there were two main focuses heading into it: his connection with Wilson Ramos and his slider.
Both were positives after the short, two-inning outing.
Starting with Ramos, manager Luis Rojas said that Syndergaard and the Mets' top catcher would be working to improve their chemistry after last season when Syndergaard was open with management about not trusting him behind the plate. Ramos admitted that he was working on his framing this spring as well, one of the areas Syndergaard reportedly didn't like.
It was only two frames, but Syndergaard liked what he saw from his backstop.
"I did, yeah," Syndergaard said when asked if he felt comfortable with Ramos. "Small sample size, just two innings. But we were on the same page, of course two innings, but just the rhythm and tempo we had was something to build off. Really encouraging."
As for the slider, Syndergaard's signature pitch that he couldn't get to work consistently last season due in part because of the new baseballs the league used, it felt good out of his hand. But there is room for improvement.
"I did like the slider. It's close to the velocity I want it," he said, adding that he wants it around the "92-93 range." "There were some that I didn't throw with complete conviction and intent, but I noticed that -- it might have been the second-to-last hitter or the last hitter -- I had thrown a fastball down and away, pretty good location and I was thinking to myself out there that I knew if I threw a slider anywhere in that vicinity, I'd get a swing and miss. So that's encouraging."
Getting Syndergaard's mechanics and slider back in check would do wonders for the man looking to have a bounce-back season after posting a 4.28 ERA over 32 starts in 2019. And he feels his on the road to do just that have setting the foundation in this start.
"I felt like I was back to a competing mentality as opposed to thinking what parts of my body are doing what on the mound," he explained. "I designated those spots throughout my routine to put those in between my side sessions and my starts. So, overall, it was definitely a step in the right direction and just going to build off that."