Perhaps no pitcher on the staff has the chance to benefit more from new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner than Noah Syndergaard. Sure, sure – Edwin Diaz‘ results may be more important to the club. But would Hefner get credit for that or would it be the offseason work with Pedro Martinez that Diaz has supposedly done that would get the credit?

We’ve seen firsthand the raw materials that Syndergaard possesses. They’re topnotch yet Syndergaard has one fatal flaw. No, it’s not his ability to keep runners from stealing. So far that’s proven not to hurt him as bad as one might think. Instead, it’s Syndergaard’s inability to put batters away once he gets to two strikes on a hitter.

Starting pitchers in the NL last year had a combined .253/.317/.434 line. Meanwhile, Syndergaard allowed opposing hitters a .714 OPS allowed, 37 points better than the league average. But once the count gets to two strikes, NL pitchers saw their OPS allowed drop to .524, a decline of 227 points. Syndergaard’s OPS allowed with two strikes was .543 – a decline of 171 points.

How could Syndergaard be able to get to two strikes better than other league starters yet fare worse once he got there? Some say his inability to pitch inside effectively is the culprit. Others think that his slider is not the weapon it once was, leaving him without a go-to pitch. Maybe it’s one of these, maybe it’s both or maybe it’s something completely unrelated.

Regardless, Hefner has a chance here to make a big difference.

*****

We’ve talked here earlier and more often about how effective Syndergaard is pitching to Tomas Nido than any other catcher on the team over the past two years. With Nido catching him over 24 starts and 153 IP, Syndergaard has a 2.41 ERA and a .610 OPS allowed. Overall in those same two seasons, Syndergaard has posted marks of 3.73 and a .686, respectively. Here are the ERAs allowed by Syndergaard with other backstops catching the past two seasons:

Travis d’Arnaud – 10 IP, 9 ER, 8.10 ERA, 1.016 OPS
Jose Lobaton – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 2.84 ERA, .914 OPS
Devin Mesoraco – 28 IP, 10 ER, 3.21 ERA, .718 OPS
Kevin Plawecki – 47 IP, 24 ER, 4.60 ERA, .678 OPS
Wilson Ramos – 97 IP, 56 ER, 5.20 ERA, .731 OPS
Rene Rivera – 12.2 IP, 4 ER, 2.84 ERA, .697 OPS

Those six have combined for 201 innings and 105 ER for a 4.70 ERA.

The Mets’ refusal to pair Syndergaard with Nido on a regular basis is nothing short of madness. Ramos caught too many games last year, anyway. Why not give him 30 or so scheduled days off? They say pitchers do better on a regular rotation – why not catchers? Give Ramos those days off and a breather on some day games after night games and he can have a more manageable 115-120 games played, rather than the 141 games he logged last year, a career-high at age 31.

*****

Okay, let’s get to the forecast. We’ll start by seeing what the computer models predict for Syndergaard in 2020:

ATC – 186 IP, 3.76 ERA, 191 Ks, 47 BB, 22 HR
Marcel – 174 IP, 4.03 ERA, 179 Ks, 48 BB, 20 HR
Steamer – 195 IP, 3.89 ERA, 200 Ks, 52 BB, 24 HR
ZiPS – 186.2 IP, 3.33 ERA, 197 Ks, 45 BB, 21 HR

As expected for a player with an established track record, the computer models are all pretty much in agreement here, with the exception of ZiPS and its bullish ERA forecast. This time last year, a 3.33 ERA wouldn’t have been considered a bullish ERA prediction for Syndergaard. But it’s not like we can forget the 4.28 ERA he posted last season.

Can Hefner have an impact that Dave Eiland and Phil Regan before him did not have with Syndergaard? Will the Mets not be so dogmatic with their idea that no pitcher should have a personal catcher? Will Syndergaard and Ramos work better together in their second season? Those questions will go a long way towards answering what kind of year Syndergaard will have in 2020. Here’s my totally biased prediction:

IP – 190.2 IP
ERA – 2.93
K’s – 197
BB – 42
HR – 15

You’ll have more credibility in the future if you chime in now with what you think Syndergaard will do this year. Next, Jeff McNeil goes under the forecast microscope.

15 comments on “Mets 2020 projections: Noah Syndergaard

  • Peter from NJ

    During Syndergaard’s low period period last year, with two strikes the hitter would stroke a clean single. I would shout out “how are these guys hitting him?”

    My thinking is Syndergaard is always around the plate throwing strikes. The hitter takes a shot and gets on base. Looking at last years innings/hits means a turnaround in 2020 hopefully in your “totally biased opinion. what do those metric algorithms know anyway!

  • José

    Give a man a hammer, and the entire universe seems like a nail just begging to be bashed! With that in mind, I’ll employ my ever-lovin’ standby, the so-called “regression to the mean”.

    In his ML career, Thor has had precisely one season where, in the minimum, he couldn’t be rated as “very good”, and that would be 2019. (Not counting 2017 when he was mostly on IL.) Thus, I (vaguely) predict that he will have a season much closer to his career norms.

    Exact numerical values, you ask? What do I look like, a clairvoyant? Nonetheless, I predict that I might be seen as above average in my prognostications

    (Final thought: look at his FIPs. The worst is 3.60, last year.)

  • Warren Fottrell

    I really wish WordPress wasn’t so restrictive. I can’t even “like” this unless I open an account with them. That kinda thing usually pushes me in the opposite direction and I never open an account with sites that do that.

    Just so you know Brian, I still read you and enjoy your blog.

    • Brian Joura

      Thanks for the support! Make sure to join us in the Game Chatters once the season starts.

  • Remember1969

    Thor will pitch reasonably well, but will be the Mets hard luck pitcher as far as a few tough losses go and again will frustrate everyone by still not showing his ace potential that everybody is waiting for. And if not at age 27, then when? Because of his strength and conditioning, I am predicting some bigger numbers as far as starts and innings pitched than the computer models

    33 Starts
    14 Wins
    11 Losses
    235 Innings Pitched
    216 Hits
    88 Earned Runs
    3.37 ERA
    251 Strikeouts
    57 Walks
    21 HRs allowed
    1.162 WHP

    A couple years like that and he’ll be signing the 9 figure deal.

  • footballhead

    I didn’t realize that Syndergaard had allowed the most ER last year in the NL! 197 IP with a 4.28 ERA will do that, I guess. I think that Noah will be more Thor like this coming season and as Remember1969 pointed out, we’ll see if at age 27 he truly is an ace. Excellent points Brian about the stupidity of the Mets regarding “personal catchers”, and even the over use of Ramos. I’ll be optimistic about Mets player management for 2020. (ok, that’ll be a first!)

    IP 210, ERA 3.28, Ks 222, BB 55 and a hard-luck record of 13-11 in 32 starts.

  • Bob P

    I’m going all in on Thor this year. Top 3 Cy Young.
    205 IP
    2.33 ERA
    230 K
    51 BB
    16 HR

  • Chris F

    180-200 IP
    3.4-3.7 ERA
    1.17-1.20 WHIP
    185-205 Ks
    20-25 HR

    I think he suffers from: 1. Inability to induce swing and miss out of zone low, or a lack of confidence in being able to bounce pitches; 2. Lack of being able to change eye levels and get letter high swings; 3. Overconfidence in pitching hard with fastballs low in zone.

  • Metsense

    Thor has not duplicated his 2016 numbers after his 2017 injury.
    198 IP
    3.66 ERA
    201 K’s
    51 BB
    18 HR

    I do not like a personal catcher. But in this case, with the overwhelming evidence, they should allow it. It does rub me the wrong way but unfortunately at 27 he has not improved by himself.

  • Mike W

    I dont know what to think about Syndergaard. I do know that he may be the most important player on the team. Loaded with talent. Would love to see him break out with a big season. If he does, Mets have a great shot at winning the division. If he doesnt and is mediocre, they will probably come in third place.

  • Warren Fottrell

    If I’m not there just come and pull me in by the ear. 😉

  • Pete

    Let’s see if Thor finally understands he needs to pitch to get hitters out. Throwing hard isn’t the solution every time. Reminds me of Nolan Ryan. With that being said i’m really optimistic he blossoms this year.
    Starts 31
    ERA 3.40
    IP 196
    W-L 17-11
    K-BB 210-48
    HR’S 17

  • TexasGusCC

    It seems that Syndergaard aims his pitches too often and they lose movement. I recall Yadier Molina hitting a high inside fastball over the fence last year in an early game. Syndergaard didn’t challenge him inside again. The other inside pitch was a braking ball that Molina turned on for a hit to left.

    It seems Syndergaard doesn’t hide the ball as well, and so he’s easier to track. Plus, what ever happened to the filthy off speed pitch he was working on in Spring Training 2018?

    My numbers will reflect the hope that the BVW ego lets Nido catch Thor, and that Syndergaard starts putting some pitches on the fists:

    32 starts
    19 Wins
    5 Losses
    2.31 ERA
    202 innings
    212 K’s
    43 BB’s
    11 HR’s allowed, 6 Hr’s hit!

  • MattyMets

    If the 2020 baseball has raisers seems again, Syndergaard, Diaz, Familia and Gsellman will all have better years. In Tyler Kenner’s amazing book “K,” when the slider first became popular in MLB, it was referred to as the great equalizer. A lot of good MLB hitters can sit on a curveball and drive it the other way. But a good, hard slider, especially to same side hitters, is a great out pitch. Syndergaard normally has a really effective one, but didn’t have it in 2019.

    His fastball has great velocity but not the spin rate of deGrom’s or Wheelers. He also doesn’t go north-south enough with his location. Hopefully Hefner can work with him on not throwing every pitch knee high.

    I expect a big bounce back year from him and agree with Brian’s projections. I still don’t believe he will ever develop into a true ace, but I do think with the right coaching and a few adjustments he can be a really good #2.

  • Boomboom

    Still must see starts bc you know he has the talent to do something special like throw a cg sho. We ‘ll see if this is the year or not.

    IP – 205 IP
    ERA – 3.20
    K’s – 215
    BB – 50
    HR – 12
    Top 10 cy
    Oh and 3 home runs on offense.

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