In case you missed it (you didn’t), Noah Syndergaard made his MLB debut last night in Chicago, in a game the Mets lost 6-1. Noah allowed three runs on six hits and four walks (one intentional) in 5.1 innings, striking out six.
So, what to make of it?
- Not Bad: Not exactly the loftiest of standards here, but Syndergaard wasn’t bad. And that’s the first thing you’re hoping for in a debut like this— you don’t want your hyped-up prospect to turn in a dud his first time out, for your sake and for his. He gave us a pretty nice outing. The ERA (5.04) isn’t pretty, he didn’t go that deep into the game, he wasn’t dominant, and he lost. It wasn’t a great outing. But it wasn’t bad. Noah has nothing to be ashamed of.
- Hook from Hell: Yeah, it’s a thing. Syndergaard has an MLB-ready curveball, and he fooled his fair share of Cubs with it in his first outing. But if Noah wants to get the most out of his best weapon, the rest of his game has to be a bit sharper than it was tonight.
- Fastball: It’s fast. Noah was hitting upper-90’s with regularity. But it was pretty straight, and at this level, velocity isn’t enough to get hitters out— as we saw with Bobby Parnell, who became a strong reliever only after he worked on his secondary pitches. Syndergaard’s fastball will be a major weapon, if he can locate it and supplement it with the rest of his arsenal.
- Command: This was the biggest issue. Noah wasn’t locating his fastball well, which put him behind in several counts and made it harder for him to get outs with either of his top pitches. He missed out of the zone, he missed in the zone (and got squared up nicely a few times by the Cub hitters), he gave Plawecki a bit of a rough time behind the plate (bouncing several pitches)— on the whole, he didn’t look too sharp. The issues became most pronounced when Noah got into trouble, either by his own fault or due to poor defense behind him (Daniel Murphy botched a play in the third inning that seemed to really derail Syndergaard, and if nothing else, cost him 20 pitches). Of Syndergaard’s 103 pitches, only 56 were strikes.
- Composure: That being said, Noah showed a “bend-but-don’t-break” mentality on more than one occasion. Noah stranded runners in scoring position in the second, fourth, and fifth innings. The most electrifying moment from Thor’s debut came in the bottom of the fifth, when he reared back and put one by Miguel Montero at 97 MPH with runners on first and third and two outs.
- Rough ending: It certainly would have been nice to see Noah end on a high note, and after he escaped trouble in the fifth inning, it might have been the right move to take him out with five scoreless frames under his belt. Terry Collins left him in, which wasn’t a horrible move (his pitch count was reasonable), but Syndergaard came out flat in the sixth, allowing three runs and marring his final line to take the shine off of what was a very MLB debut.
Again, this was Syndergaard’s first time out, and you can’t really expect him to be on top of his game. He has always shown— with tonight being no exception— that he has the stuff to dominate. The heat and the hook were there, and the changeup looked pretty nice too. Much like Zack Wheeler, Syndergaard just needs strong, consistent command to be a top-flight MLB starter. Matt Harvey has it. Wheeler seemed to be figuring it out before his injury. Syndergaard didn’t necessarily show it in his first start, but we saw that he has the stuff to get MLB hitters out, and the command should come with time.
This was a good day for Mets fans (despite the loss). I’m being picky here, I’m treating him like an MLB pitcher, which he has been for under 24 hours. Five scoreless innings make for a solid showing, but three runs in five-and-a-third is pretty mediocre. So from a results standpoint, Syndergaard was just “okay.” But he had the looks of a pitcher who could be a nightmare for the National League for years to come, once he figures the little things out.
Remember, Noah is 22 years old.