Noah Syndergaard had tossed 98 pitches and threw eight scoreless innings Sunday against the Giants, but told pitching coach Dan Warthen that it would be better to send Juerys Familia out for the ninth inning.
"I thought it would be the best decision to hand it over to the best closer in the game, get a win, get back on the bus and head to St. Louis," Syndergaard told reporters.
Familia faced four batters, didn't allow a run and locked down the win for his 41st save of the year.
"I'll tell you what, though, he showed me something," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Syndergaard. "He came off and said, 'It's too late in the year to be a hero. I'm getting a little tired.' A lot of guys wouldn't have said that. They would've taken it upon themselves. That's what we wanted to hear."
Syndergaard, who allowed just four baserunners and none beyond first base, pitched past the sixth inning for the first time since July 3.
"The past month and a half, I felt like today was the first day I went out there and actually relaxed and had fun," he later explained. "I just kept things simple. The last month and half, I've been trying to think too far ahead in advance."
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In case you hadn't noticed, Familia entered Sunday having blown three of his last seven saves. I'm sure Syndergaard was being honest about his strength. But, also, by doing what he did and saying it the way he said it, especially in public to reporters, he's showing an awesome sign of support for his closer, who is not having the best time of late. Nicely done, Noah...
By the way, remember all the rush-to-judgment, ignorant talking heads in early 2015 that told us Syndergaard was too immature to succeed at the big leagues? No? Let me refresh your memory...
It was based on his spring-2014 slip up eating lunch in the clubhouse during an intrasquad game, followed by his fall-2014 comments about understanding why Sandy Alderson had yet to promote him to the big leagues and how he agreed with the decision because he didn't pitch well enough to earn a trip to Queens. In the case of eating lunch during a practice game, which he was lectured about by David Wright, Syndergaard copt to the error, plead ignorance and never made the mistake again. To me, that was anything but an immature reaction. Similarly, I thought his remarks about himself and Alderson were incredibly mature and uniquely wise, especially for a then-21 year old.
The way I see it, he's not immature. Instead, he's seemingly incredibly self aware, which may explain some of the above 'incidents,' and why he did what he did last night against the Giants.
This is a rare quality, let alone for young men in his position with rare physical talent. Yet, despite the constant accolades, and potential for an inflated ego, he always speaks with patience, humility and a sense of humor and with a context for how he fits in to the situation and what it means to him physically and emotionally and the people around him.
The only other player I saw like this was Billy Wagner.
The point is, Syndergaard is thoughtful and self aware. These qualities will help make him a unique leader on his team (if it hasn't happened already) and let him navigate his success and failures in a way that other pitchers on his staff will not be able to do. I'm thankful he's on the Mets.
If you're looking for something to watch on Monday night ...
This season, Syndergaard has been staring in the SNY original web series The Amazin' Life, presented by Coca-Cola. In the latest episode, he spends the afternoon working in the Mets Clubhouse Shop...
Video: The Amazin' Life: Noah's New Job
To see previous episodes, including a behind the scenes look at his horse ride with Yoenis Cespedes during Spring Training, and his afternoon dressed as Thor in Time's Square, click here.