New York Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard allowed five runs, eight hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing since June 27, in Monday's 7-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.
"It's a disappointment," Syndergaard (13-9), who threw 99 pitches, said, according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. "I didn't go out there and get my job done."
Manager Terry Collins said earlier on Monday that Syndergaard is in line to start a potential wild card game, and reiterated his confidence in the 24-year-old starter after Syndergaard didn't make it out of the fourth inning.
"He's our guy," Collins said. "Certainly those young guys have stepped up and done a great job, but you're going to go into the playoffs looking at Noah Syndergaard as the guy. If there's a big game to be pitched, he's the guy you're going to turn to."
Syndergaard had been 3-1 with a 1.06 ERA over his previous five starts, but struggled on Monday.
He allowed RBI singles to Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte in the second inning, a solo home run to Freddie Freeman in the third and a two-run double to Freeman in the fourth before Collins went to the bullpen.
"This is the first game in over a year that I've seen Noah just not have it," Collins said.
Despite still being one game up in the wild card race, last night showed a return to the World Series is going to be a arduous, uphill grind. It's not impossible, but it's going to be really, really difficult. As awesome as Syndergaard has been at times this season, as much as he's clearly this team's ace, he's still young and carries the potential to totally lose it on any given night.
His location was off. He was missing Rene Rivera's target all night. As a result, he was incapable of pitching inside, the ball was away or over the plate, and the Braves tattooed him -- especially Freeman, who has been the league's hottest hitter during the last month.
It's weird because he was so strong and commanding five days ago against the Nationals. Perhaps he was thrown off from not having faced the Braves all season. Or maybe it was that they've been the best hitting team in baseball over the past few weeks. Maybe he just didn't feel right. But whatever it was, he'll need to get over it his next time out, which will be against the Phillies at Citi Field.