In case everyone forgot, Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland reminded us Tuesday that Noah Syndergaard is a human being. He's not a cartoon character or robot that literally throws thunderbolts and runs on batteries.
It appears that Syndergaard needs to be reminded of this reality, as well.
"I just feel like I haven't been living up to my expectations for myself or for other people," Syndergaard said after striking out seven Blue Jays and allowing two runs and five hits during five innings Tuesday. "Once it clicks, I'll be really looking forward to that."
For starters, Syndergaard needed to sit through an 86-minute rain delay, after which he immediately struck out the side to start the game.
"I felt great in the first inning, some glimpses of the old Noah were coming out," he added.
Syndergaard is 25 years old. He's made 70 starts during his career. There is no 'old Noah,' which I think is the point Eiland was trying to make with his quote earlier this week.
Eiland explained Tuesday that he was trying to compliment Syndergaard, not insult him, when saying this past weekend that the young pitcher had not accomplished enough to for there to be so much pressure and expectations on him.
"I think Noah would be the first to tell you there are things he needs to work on," Eiland added. "He's an upper echelon guy. He's a top shelf starting pitcher in all of baseball. He's going to be really good, but he hasn't been around long enough. He doesn't have that long of a track record."
To their credit, Toronto made an adjustment or two Tuesday night and started working counts, which elevated Syndergaard's pitch count and created extra stressful pitches. Good for them. However, even despite their best effort to adjust, Syndergaard ended up facing 22 batters, he threw 105 pitches and let up just two runs. If this is not good enough then I don't know what it is...
To be as successful as he is capable of being, Syndergaard needs to adjust his expectations. This is the trap that Matt Harvey fell in to and something Tom Seaver never subscribed to. I recall talking to Seaver several years ago, during which he told me that his favorite time to pitch was during games when he didn't have his best stuff, because it created an opportunity for him to be creative and use his mind more than his arm. He liked the challenge.
Seaver told me he only expected himself to 'defeat the enemy,' as he put it. It didn't matter how many strikeouts he had, how many runs he allowed, how many ground balls he had compared to balls hit in the air. It only mattered that he did the best he could with what he had and the Mets won the game.
It would be wise for Syndergaard to get in to this mindset. If he did, he would understand that what he's been doing this season is equally as impressive as what he did in 2016, when he was on fire all season and nearly won a Cy Young Award.
This season, though, he's struggling and needing to battle for outs.
I don't know if he's tipping pitches or what, but what I do know is that he's not on his game. However, instead of imploding or stepping aside, he's pushing to stay on the mound at a time when the Mets absolutely need him and, despite not having his best 'stuff,' he's allowed three or more runs just three times in his nine starts, during which the Mets are 6-3.
Syndergaard has the physical tools to produce better results. But he should be proud and take some solace in knowing he has the mental toughness to be better than most pitchers even when he's missing those physical tools.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!