Something is wrong with New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
And it all seems to be stemming from his head.
The 26-year-old fireballer continues to fail to live up to such high expectations created four years ago.
After showing flashes of pure dominance in 2016 and briefly in 2017 with a 2.65 ERA and 5.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 37 starts, injuries helped throw quite the wrench into his development.
Syndergaard started just seven games in 2017 before a torn lat sidelined him. He started 25 games last season while battling a finger injury and viral issues where he still managed to go 13-4 with a 3.03 ERA.
Yet something still seemed off about Syndergaard as he did not resemble the overwhelmingly powerful ace that was going to carry the Mets rotation alongside Jacob deGrom for years to come.
Syndergaard’s stuff was suddenly hittable and his put-’em-away capabilities seemed stunted. His walks, hits per innings pitched (WHIP) from 2016-17 raised from 1.136 to 1.212 last year while his strikeouts per nine innings dropped from 10.6 to 9.0.
It’s been an even more difficult start to 2019 as Syndergaard is 3-4 with a 4.93 ERA entering Wednesday night’s start against the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers.
His 1.255 WHIP and 9.3 hits per nine innings are on pace for career-worsts while the 10 home runs allowed in 11 starts is just one fewer than he gave up in 30 starts in 2017.
Friday night against the Detroit Tigers was his worst outing of the season as he was throttled for six runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings of work in the Mets’ only loss of a seven-game homestand:
It was a dud of a performance following two sterling outings against the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins in which he allowed just four runs on nine hits in a combined 15 innings of work.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway referenced some mechanical issues that could be plaguing the right-hander.
“Pitching’s really freaking annoying sometimes,” Syndergaard said after his loss to the Tigers. “It kind of reminds me of my golf swing a little bit. One day you go out there and you feel like you have it figured out, then you go out there the next day and feel like you’re just repeating yourself but not getting the results you want.”
Yet Syndergaard’s worrisome trends have been popping up far too often for it to just be mechanics.
We all know that he can throw hard but it’s becoming clear that he doesn’t necessarily know how to manage those starts when things start going wrong.
Most major leaguers can hit 100-mile-per-hour fastballs. It’s movement, cunning, and the right combination of pitches that allows a pitcher to take that next step in the pros.
Syndergaard just isn’t finding it right now. That’s only going to continue hurting the Mets as they continue to try and scrap their way back toward .500.