Much like how the God of Thunder in Greek mythology, Thor, brought thunder to the masses of Athens, Noah Syndergaard would bring a thunderous roar from the Citi Field faithful when he would take the mound. Already an enigmatic figure in his short career, Syndergaard quickly gained attention around the league for his tall stature, long golden locks, and his capability to throw hard fastballs. Besides being an extremely marketable player, the Mets organization, and fans alike, began to put significant stock in Syndergaard as the ace of the staff moving towards the future. With recent struggles, there have been rumblings that Syndergaard is overrated.
Let me start by saying that Syndergaard was never the ace of this staff. Since 2015, Jacob deGrom has undoubtedly been the best pitcher in the Mets starting rotation, and this year has done everything but cement that frame of mind. While deGrom has been in discussion for the CY Young Award virtually all season long, Syndergaard has been receiving criticism. Syndergaard has been in a rut for the month of August, going 3-2 with a 4.74 ERA.
While of course these numbers are concerning, they are certainly no indication that Syndergaard is overrated. Let’s take a step back and look at the fact that he is only 26, and he could still just be going through some natural growing pains. One of those growing pains is without a doubt the stolen base crisis that follows him around like a plague. Word quickly spread that Syndergaard, because of his slow delivery to the plate, is extremely easy to steal on.
So far this season, he has allowed 26 stolen bases, most in the National League, and only one ahead of his teammate, Steven Matz. This is detrimental to Syndergaard’s starts, as a bunt single by a fast baserunner can easily turn into a double with the way that he delivers. It also doesn’t help that he has given up 10 walks in August, which shows that he has been struggling with his command recently. Those walks also turn into more stolen bases given up.
Out of everyone though, Syndergaard seems to be his own most harsh critic, telling reports after the loss to the Chicago Cubs on Monday “Every five days now I’m just kind of wasting my ability to pitch.”
While he has certainly not been at his true elite form this season, he has not pitched poorly by any stretch this season. Right now, he has a 9-3 record with a 3.51 ERA. Jason Vargas would kill to have these kind of “struggles.”
Syndergaard is an elite pitcher at the Major League level, and if he remains healthy, should be for a long time. Right now, he is simply fighting through some issues that most pitchers deal with at some point in their career. Considering that he is going through these struggles, and that he allows so many stolen bases, he is actually doing quite alright. While he may not be the ace of the staff, Syndergaard is going to be just fine.