Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard tossed 101 pitches and allowed one unearned run, while striking out 11 batters in 5 1/3 innings, during Sunday's 3-2 win against the Brewers at Citi Field.
"I feel like this is finally a step in the right direction," Syndergaard told reporters after the game. "I finally got a glimpse of what I'm capable of. I felt like my first three starts were not up to par. I feel like this is close to dominance."
That's an understatement. Sunday, he looked smooth and dominant... like a young Doc Gooden.
Following his previous start, Syndergaard looked stressed and talked a lot about mechanics, which is almost always the default answer from a pitcher for reporters after a poor start. I didn't see much different from him delivery Sunday compared to his start last week. Instead, the difference appeared to be more about his approach and effortless movements that got him on track Sunday.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway didn't speak about his interactions with Syndergaard between starts, but my hunch is got him to slow things down, stop focusing on the body and, instead, focus on the Brewers, who has pitched well against during his career. As a result, Sunday's start was about as free, calm and easy and dominant as I've ever seen him. He didn't appear to ever break a sweat. He never appeared to reach back for anything other than what was being released from his hand. It at times looked like he lost care for the opposing hitter and was simply playing having a nice, relaxing catch or bullpen session with his catcher, 24-year-old rookie Tomas Nido.
Callaway pulled Syndergaard with one out in the fifth inning.
"I felt like I had plenty left," Syndergaard later said. "I felt like I was just hitting my stride."
He's probably right. He may have been able to go longer. However, 29 of his total 101 pitches were thrown in the first inning, thanks in part to a two-out walk and an error by Wilmer Flores.
"We pushed him as hard as we were going to today," Callaway said after the game.
Syndergaard entered Sunday's game 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA, while striking out 32 percent of the batters he had faced. I love that he considered this stat line to be 'not up to par.' Of course, this makes sense, especially if he is expecting to always be dominant. In either case, I like this. I like that he walks like a God and pitches with a dead look in his eye. The key, though, as I mentioned above, is that he does this free and easy and smooth and confident.
Obviously, everyone knows that he has an impressive and powerful fastball. This is probably why, on Sunday, his change up was his difference maker. As a singular pitch, he throws it fine. However, at 90 mph, when tucked between a 97 mph four-seam fastball and a 92 mph slider, it's going to seem impossible to hit any 90 mph change-up on the insider or outside edge of the plate. To make matters worse for Milwaukee, Syndergaard also mixed in his curve ball, which is more of a slurve, junk-ball type pitch, but it's effective enough that guys take it for strikes. In fact, he actually got a called strike three from it in the third inning.
In the end, the Brewers looked lost at the plate. Syndergaard's confidence, calm and wicked repertoire had them totally guessing in every situation. They may as well have had blind folds on...
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!