Syndergaard Needs to Make This His Last Start of the Year
As we saw with the Mets last year, your chances of winning in the postseason are greatly enhanced when you are able to properly set your rotation. With the Mets clinching in plenty of time, they were able to make sure Jacob deGrom went against Clayton Kershaw in Game One of the NLDS, and they were ready to make sure Matt Harvey started a pivotal Game Three. The Mets were also able to start Noah Syndergaard in Game Two and have him ready for a lights out relief appearance in the clinching Game Five. If the Mets were not able to set their rotation just like that, it is very possible the Mets don’t make it out of the NLDS let alone make it all the way to the World Series.
In many ways, that is what is on the line for Syndergaard in his start against the Marlins tonight.
As it stands right now, the Mets have a half game lead over the Giants for the first Wild Card. With the Mets having won the season series against the Giants, all they need to do is just tie the Giants for the first Wild Card to play the Wild Card Game at Citi Field. The Mets also have a 1.5 game lead over the Cardinals for one of the two Wild Card spots. All told, the Mets magic number to get a Wild Card spot is five. That number goes down to four if Syndergaard goes out there and wins tonight. It could go even lower with a Cardinals loss.
The Mets need to get to that clincher as soon as possible. With Syndergaard pitching tonight, his next scheduled start will be on Sunday, which is the regular season finale. If Syndergaard is forced to make this start, that means he will be unavailable to start in Wednesday’s Wild Card Game. If Syndergaard has to start on Sunday, it means the Mets have to choose between Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman on normal rest or Bartolo Colon on short rest to make the biggest start of the season. Simply put, Syndergaard is the Mets best pitcher, and he is the man the Mets want on the mound for the Wild Card Game.
The Mets also need a big start from Syndergaard because the Mets need to help move on from the emotion that swept them up last night. Both Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d’Arnaud were crying on the field. It was a hard game for the Mets to play. From an outsider’s perspective, it appeared that the emotions of the night got the better of them. That is certainly understandable, and it would be understandable if it happened again tonight. No one expects the pain from losing Jose Fernandez to go away just because the Marlins won a big game last night. Still, the Mets have to move on and get back to playing winning baseball. Syndergaard shutting down the Marlins will go a long way towards helping the team get back on the winning track.
Finally, Syndergaard needs a big start for himself. In his last outing, he threw 99 pitches, and he couldn’t get out of the fourth inning against a terrible Braves team. In that game, he allowed eight hits and walked three while allowing five runs in just 3.2 innings. That’s not Syndergaard. He needs to get back on the mound tonight and get back to being Syndergaard. If he doesn’t, the Mets have no shot at winning the Wild Card Game or in making a deep run in the postseason.
There is a lot on the line in tonight’s start. Syndergaard has to help rejuventate not just the Mets but also himself. He has to do all that is necessary to make sure this is his last start of the regular season. It’s a lot to put on his broad shoulders. However, as we have seen in his young career, he can certainly handle it.