Unless Blown Away, Mets Need to Keep Syndergaard

New York Mets flamethrower Noah Syndergaard is once again a trade target of the San Diego Padres, as per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. As enticing as a deal with the Padres may be considering the overabundance of top-line prospects sprinkled throughout their organization, the return would have to be — as Mets COO Jeff Wilpon so eloquently said — lopsided for the Mets to consider such a move.

There are fair arguments on both sides of the Trade Syndergaard fence. Better yet, in this debate, both sides are right. Syndergaard, 26, is an elite major league pitcher. The Friars have THE most talented farm system in baseball, hands down. If there was ever a team to make a deal with, the Padres are that team.

Over the first 54 starts of Syndergaard’s career (2015 and 2016), the Texas native racked up a 9.4 fWAR rating with a 2.89 earned-run average, 1.103 WHIP, and an eye-opening 5.19 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Welcome to The Show, big fella.

Syndergaard tore his lateral muscle in his second start of 2017, coming back to pitch three innings over two appearances before the end of that season. As disappointing as that setback was for one of the most exciting hurlers in the game, seeing him return to the mound the last week of 2017 was just as uplifting. Though, it may have given this fanbase a bit of false hope.

Coming into 2018, some had Thor pegged as an early NL Cy Young candidate. In actuality, it would take the right-hander a bit more time to regain his form — but only a bit. After the first two starts of the season, Syndergaard owned a 5.40 earned-run average and a .381 BABIP. Then, through the end of April, he pitched to a 1.82 ERA with a .546 OPS against. That’s more like it.

His uneven May and June/July bouts with hand-foot-and-mouth disease and a strained ligament in his right index finger seemingly kept the 26-year-old from finding a rhythm. Despite coming into his first start back from the DL (August 1) with a 2.98 ERA, he just didn’t seem like the same Thor; and his August proved as much.

Over six starts in the dog days of summer, the righty had a 4.74 ERA with a bloated — for Syndergaard — .268/.325/.340 slash line against. As September rolled around, we started to see those old familiar flashes of brilliance once again. In fact, it was more like domination with a touch of misfortune.

After pitching a complete game, eleven strikeout two-hitter to start off the final month of the season with a bang, Syndergaard took a step back with a 6.2 inning, 12 hit, four-run defeat at the hands of the Phillies.

For the umpteenth time in 2018, fans wondered aloud whether Syndergaard’s wizardry had been lost. Fear not, Flushing faithful. He would return. Over his last four starts, the Big Texan went 2-1 with a 1.04 ERA, .165/.232/.264 slash line against, and a microscopic .197 BABIP.

Bottom line, without the consistency of making his starts every five days and the nagging, at times bizarre injuries he faced, Syndergaard’s return from a nearly season-long absence to being the pitcher he once was got a bit delayed.

Once he was healthy, we all witnessed the transformation back to being the jaw-droppingly talented power pitcher we all know and love.

Maybe this is the right time to explore a trade. Strike while the iron is hot, right? Or maybe this is the cornerstone pitcher this New York Mets team needs to plug in behind reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom to give this team one of the most formidable one-two punches in a rotation in recent memory.

This talent-packed pair, along with the resurgent Zack Wheeler could carry this team next season. With Brodie Van Wagenen, as well as ownership, seemingly on board with fielding a truly competitive team in 2019 and beyond, these three pitchers could be this organization’s ticket to the promised land.

Build around this core. It might not be around forever. Now, if the Padres offer a package centered around top-prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., maybe the Mets will have to reconsider. Until that day comes, keeping Syndergaard around might not be such a terrible idea.

Considering he’s arbitration-eligible through the 2021 season, and no one has any idea as to what this offseason will bring as far as roster upgrades and what will come of them, there’s a whole lot of time to pick a course of action.

About Tim Ryder 368 Articles
A native of the South Shore of Long Island. Follow me on Twitter @TimothyRRyder