Keep Noah Syndergaard Paired With Rene Rivera

There is a wealth of information which proves to us CERA is not a reliable source of information upon which to base decisions. The sample sizes are too small to draw any sort of conclusions, and there are too many variables at play like home plate umpires and opposing lineups. Despite all of that, the pairing of Noah Syndergaard and Rene Rivera seems significant.

Certainly, it felt that way in Washington last week. After a Trea Turner leadoff single, Syndergaard retired the next 16 batters in a row striking out nine of them. Syndergaard’s final line was 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K. The last time Syndergaard pitched seven innings walking none and striking out 10 was April 20, 2017. His catcher that day? Rene Rivera.

Now, Syndergaard has had plenty of dominating performances since he was last paired with Rivera. That said, he seemed to be much more consistently dominant with Rivera behind the plate. For example, Syndergaard started the 2017 season allowing just two earned runs in his first three starts while averaging 6.1 innings per start. In those games, he struck out 20 and walked none. Syndergaard would have similar runs in 2016 including but not limited to his GREAT performance in the 2016 Wild Card game.

Overall, Rivera has caught Syndergaard 29 times. In those 29 games, Syndergaard has a 2.52 ERA. When Syndergaard is caught by another catcher, he has a career 3.57 ERA. When Syndergaard is caught by Rivera, he has a 1.9 BB/9 and a 10.3 K/9. When he is caught by anyone else, Syndergaard has a 2.2 BB/9 and a 9.5 K/9. Again, these numbers could be explained by sheer randomness, but seeing the disparity, it does call for further examination as to why the discrepancy.

On that front, Rivera has long been noted for his pitch framing skills. In fact, he has elite pitch framing skills. Specifically, he has quite the ability to frame that low pitch. As the Hard Ball Times put it in 2014, Rivera’s ability allows “pitchers to have dominion over the low, outside corner, nabbing strikes that hitters would have to lunge to make contact with. It seems like it was part of a consistent strategy for Rivera and his battery mate to nip that corner on 0-0.”

Considering how Syndergaard likes throwing his sinker, he needs a catcher like Rivera to thrive. When you also consider Rivera’s years of experience behind the plate, Rivera also serves as a mentor of sorts for Syndergaard. He knows how to read Syndergaard knowing when he does and doesn’t have it. He knows what pitch to call in each situation. There is a comfort between the two, and based on Rivera’s skill behind the plate matching Syndergaard’s ability on the mound, they bring out the best in one another.

With the Mets making a push for the Wild Card and trying to get the best out of their starters, they should be pairing Syndergaard with Rivera. That goes double when there is a day game after a night game. As an aside, when the two aren’t paired, Rivera should be counseling Tomas Nido, a catcher who has a similar skill set and has gotten similar dominance from Syndergaard.

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, the Mets need to do what is best for their starters. Like in 2016 and 2017 and with his last start, Syndergaard needs to be paired with Rivera.

12 thoughts on “Keep Noah Syndergaard Paired With Rene Rivera”

  1. David Klein says:

    Sewald instead of Brach facing Hoskins then he let’s Avilan who is a loogy to face Franco. That’s some tremendous managing by Mickey.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Brach is likely unavailable.

      Avilan facing Franco is inexcusable. Can’t happen.

      1. David Klein says:

        Brach was warming up?

        1. David Klein says:

          Yes he was

  2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    “Despite all of that, the pairing of Noah Syndergaard and Rene Rivera seems significant.”

    –Given all the variables you make a solid case. I suppose there’s more to be done in the area of statistical significance, and how likely it is through random chance we’d get the performances we’ve seen with Syndergaard throwing to various catchers, but it’s still going to come down to “there is definitely evidence to suggest…” it’s a good idea to pair the two. And give a good pitcher whatever he needs in order to succeed.

    –It’s fascinating if disheartening to see a team (probably) fail very much along the lines its creators’ ineptitude foretold. Today we saw the Mets go to their bullpen 7 times, and 6 of those times the reliever had an ERA over 4.65. Of those 6 one has an ERA of 4.66, the other 5 are at 5.40 or higher–with most being much higher.

    On some long winter night I’ll be tempted to do at least an informal study, not of what would have happened had Diaz or Familia simply pitched to their career numbers, but how many wins the Mets would have ended up with had the GM done nothing more than find #5 through 10 relievers capable of pitching at AAAA level, at replacement level, at 0.0 WAR over the season.

    That’s an ERA around 4.75, which is obviously pretty weak–but it’s not the catastrophe we’ve seen from so many Mets relievers, something I think it’s also fair to put a good share of the blame for on Callaway. Most of the guys who have vogeled through the Mets MLB squad have some sort of skill. Guys like Gagnon, Avilan, and Bashlor shouldn’t have ERAs around 7.00. 5.00, maybe, 5.25, possibly, but not 7.00. For whatever reason, pitcher after pitcher just blows up when he comes through the Mets pen.

    And that’s what we saw tonight. Syndergaard gave up 4 runs in 5 innings. Given the final score, all the pen needed to do to win was give up 2 runs in 4 innings. That’s an ERA of 4.50. Even 3 runs in 4 IP is an ERA of 6.75 and leaves the game tied after 9 innings. It shouldn’t be this hard. We shouldn’t see the journeymen in the Mets’ bullpen detonate time after time after time after time.

    As flawed or downright foolish as the acquisitions of Familia and Diaz were, it was just as bad at the back end, where van Wagenen couldn’t find enough modest talents (the desperate acquisition of Wilmer Font so early in the season is just exhibit G in this nonsense–how did the Mets deal away so much talent in the 2018-19 offseason yet still manage not to have a Wilmer Font [or better] waiting for the call at Syracuse?) and Callaway couldn’t groom the guys he got, to go out and throw 15-20 pitches a couple of times a week with ERAs around 4.75.

    There are a lot of reasons the Mets are overwhelmingly likely to go home after Game 162, but this is one of the big ones.

  3. Oldbackstop says:

    Thor’s numbers have been inconsistent with every catcher he has had. The worst thing you can do is let him not own his shtt. Ramos is our top catcher. In a playoff game it will be Ramos. Thor has to work with Ramos. Period.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      No, the worst thing you can do is not give your starter the best chance to succeed.

  4. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    If there’s any positive evidence for pairing pitcher x with catcher y, it makes sense on a mathematical basis. There’s rarely enough difference between one player and another to make replacing the better player for a given game prohibitively costly.

    Say we have a catcher, let’s call him Wilson Ramos, and he’s worth 2 WAR over 140 games.
    Let’s also say we have another catcher, let’s call him Rene Rivera, and he’s pretty bad. Let’s call him replacement level, worth 0.0 WAR, over 50 games.

    At the level of one game, Ramos is worth 2 WAR / 140 games = ~+0.014 WAR per game
    At the level of one game, Rivera is worth 0 WAR / 50 games = 0.000 WAR per game

    The upshot of this is that playing Rivera instead of Ramos in any one of Syndergaard’s starts costs the Mets a very trivial 0.014 or 1/70th of 1 WAR, or about 1/7th of 1 run. If Rivera adds anything at all to Syndergaard’s game, then, it’s clearly a sensible tradeoff. The cost of playing a replacement level player like Rivera instead of an ordinary regular like Ramos for one game is very, very small, and pretty much any reason to do it is justifiable. If we knew in advance that subbing Rivera for Ramos meant cutting just one walk from Syndergaard’s line, then that’s a trade we should make, given that one walk is worth more than 1/7th of a run.

    —fwiw, this is why a manager who doesn’t give proper rest to his run-of-the-mill regulars is an idiot. Resting modest regulars like Frazier, Ramos, and Rosario costs very little compared to playing guys like Panik, Rivera, or Hech, and in return you typically get superior performance from a regular who’s not being ground into dust–not to mention the reduced chance of injury.

    1. Oldbackstop says:

      This logic is stupid and bad and has a stinky diaper.

      Your starting catcher has to work with every pitcher.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Please be childish elsewhere while the adults engage in real discussion using data and reason to have a honest and intelligent discussion.

    2. metsdaddy says:

      No, there’a no real evidence of personal catchers working. The sample sizes at play are way too small to prove out a result.

      That said, we can use data at hand to figure out pairings where the catcher’s ability behind the plate helps bring out the best in the pitching staff.

      Rivera’s elite ability to frame the low pitch along with Syndergaard preferring to utilize his sinker is ultimately what makes that pairing so enticing.

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