Thor Follows in the Dark Knight's Footsteps in Game 2
Noah Syndergaard continued his impressive postseason on Sunday night. (Flickr : Keith Allison)
A night after Matt Harvey shined in game one of the NLCS for the New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard took to the mound to start game two and had an impressive performance of his own against the Chicago Cubs to give the Mets a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series.
Syndergaard went five and two third innings allowing just one run on three hits while striking out nine in the 4-1 victory for the Mets. The 23-year old was pulled after allowing a run in with two outs in the sixth since he had thrown 101 pitches. After throwing in relief in game five of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mets wanted to stick to a pitch limit for the righty.
Syndergaard, the Mets’ top prospect heading into the season, had an impressive rookie campaign but may have been overlooked heading into the game because of the guy on the mound for Chicago. Jake Arrieta finished the season with 22 wins and a 1.77 ERA, having possibly the greatest second half to a season in major league baseball history. But, for the second straight start Arrieta struggled early giving up three runs in the first on a David Wright double and a Daniel Murphy home-run setting the stage for Syndergaard to steal the night.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Syndergaard said after the game. “I wish I could have gotten ahead of hitters a little bit better, but it makes pitching a lot more easy when you go out there and offense puts a three-spot on one of the best pitchers in the game right now. Kind of takes a load off my shoulders.”
On a cold night at Citi Field, the Texas native seemed to have no issues with the weather on the mound.
“I thought gripping my curveball would be a little difficult tonight, but I didn’t have any problem with that,” Syndergaard said. “Colder climates just allow me to throw my changeup with more consistency.”
The start was not the first time this season Syndergaard had faced a young Cubs’ lineup that has many players around his age in it. Back in May he made his major league debut at Wrigley Field against the Cubs going just over five innings allowing three runs on six hits while striking out six.
When asked if he thought about that start while preparing to face the Cubs again Syndergaard said not at all because he feels like a completely different pitcher now. And he is not the only one who feels that way.
“Composure-wise, just being able to control himself a little bit better this time obviously,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon responded when asked about the biggest difference between Syndergaard now and in May. “His stuff’s always good. I mean, that’s really kind of velocity and the other pitches are good too. But right now he’s just a bit more polished than we’d first seen him.”
Mets’ manager Terry Collins talked after the game about how Syndergaard’s personality has made it easy for him to catch on fast at the major league level.
“He pays attention, he listens, he asks questions,” Collins said. “He got better real fast because he did what he’s supposed to do, and that’s learn things that he needed to work on.”
Collins also pointed to Syndergaard not being intimidated by anything, joking that when you are as big as the righty is you should not be intimidated by anything. Syndergaard is listed at six feet six inches tall and weighs 240 pounds.
Syndergaard showed the world that he is not intimidated by anything when he took to the mound in game five of the NLDS at Dodgers Stadium and pitched a nearly flawless inning. Collins felt that the appearance should have given him all the confidence in the world.
Following the performances by Harvey and Syndergaard, the Mets now have the chance to take a 3-0 series lead in the NLCS by sending Jacob deGrom to the mound against the Cubs in game three. Statistically the best Mets pitcher in 2015, deGrom had a gritty performance in game 5 of the NLDS coming back to pitch six innings and leaving with a lead after allowing two fast runs in the first and working into and out of trouble all night.
The reason many believed the Mets could go deep into the postseason was because of their starting pitchers. Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom and Steven Matz form a rotation that no team left standing in the postseason can match.
“We’re very lucky that we have the pitching we have,” Collins said. “It’s going to make the difference because in these kind of games, these kind of series, we’re going to face good pitching so whoever pitches best wins, and that’s why I think we’ve got a good shot.”
The Mets have certainly faced some good pitching this offseason in the likes of Arrieta, Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. So far things have gone their way and David Wright agrees with his manager that the guys they run out there can match up with the biggest names in the sport.
“We have the Syngerdaards, the Harveys, the Matzes and the deGroms.” Wright said. “So I like our chances when we can run those guys out there.”