In the aggregate, Noah Syndergaard had another start that, while ultimately deserving of a win, didn’t speak to the dominance that has been linked to his name in seasons past. Six hits and four earned runs in six and a third innings against the Cincinnati Reds is an uncharacteristically drab product. Even so, the rotation’s second-in-command behind Jacob deGrom demonstrated plenty of signs of growth.
Working backwards, it should immediately be noted that all four runs came across in the seventh inning, and only one came home with Syndergaard himself on the mound. Bobby Wahl lost Joey Votto to a bases-loaded walk and Robert Gsellman fell victim to a parachute two-run single off the bat of Eugenio Suarez to make matters worse.
So while the runs are all rightfully charged to Thor (who was rightfully pulled from the game once Cincinnati got on the board), it should still be noted that – on two occasions (both out of his control, no less) it was essentially one pitch that made the difference.
Of the four men who had scored, the first two (Preston Tucker and Phillip Ervin) both reached after getting hit by pitches, while the other two (Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza) had reached on line-drive singles. Just as the night had seemed to turn up a notch and the bottom of the order stood in against him, the righty simply ran out of steam.
Through the first six innings, Syndergaard cruised, allowing just four hits on 87 pitches – 57 for strikes. His fastball-sinker tandem sat between 95-98 mph throughout, and he retired 10 of his last 11 batters – four on strikeouts. In a season that has been marred by mid-inning traffic, tentative work around the strike zone, and short starts with mixed results, Syndergaard seemed far more comfortable through the thick of last night.
Just once were the Reds able to move a runner to scoring position before the seventh inning. Scooter Gennett followed a Votto single with a walk, but Syndergaard squashed the rally by punching out Suarez and proceeded to set down his next seven hitters in order. Syndergaard had also beaten Suarez earlier after a challenge on a near-double play fell against the Mets and extended the first inning. Under a pressure we’ve seen before, Syndergaard wasn’t as liable to peter out. If anything, he rose to the occasion:
“[It] felt pretty mediocre out there,” Syndergaard admitted after the game. “I didn’t feel my best, mechanically and in terms of stuff. I was able to survive through six and ran out of gas in the seventh.”
While his strikeout rate has continued to fall and the triple-digit fastballs were nowhere to be found, it’s hard to complain about the performance Syndergaard was able to turn in through his first six innings. A more polished finish would have been ideal, but over his last two starts, he has managed to work much more resourcefully.
So long as he’s healthy through and through, adapting to such conflicts rather than trying to chuck his way out of them with poorly-located pitches may be the best course of action for Syndergaard going forward. After all, the results have still been satisfactory.