Best Mets Of All Time: No. 34 Noah Syndergaard
It’s rare a team can trade the reigning Cy Young Award winner and make the trade look like an absolute steal. However, that is what happened when the Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included Noah Syndergaard.
After the December 2012 trade, Syndergaard would have a somewhat interesting path to the majors. It included him trying to push his way to the majors partially to get away from the environment in Triple-A Las Vegas. He would also be ambushed by David Wright and Bobby Parnell in Spring Training with the duo throwing out his lunch. That strange odyssey led to him being truly ready in 2015.
The Mets first called him up in May when Dillon Gee hit the disabled list. Syndergaard would have a very impressive start to his Major League career. In his fourth career start, he hit his first Major League homer. In August, he would be named the National League Pitcher of the Week. He’d set a Major League record by becoming the first rookie since 1900 to have consecutive starts with nine strikeouts and no walks. This was a pitcher not only ready to debut; this was a pitcher ready for the biggest of stages – New York and the postseason.
He pitched well in his first postseason start, Game 2 of the NLDS, but he would get tagged with the loss partially because what should’ve been an inning ending double play was a blown call by second base umpire Chris Guccione when Chase Utley tackled and broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg. Syndergaard would get his revenge twice for this. The first time was his relief appearance in Game 5:
That relief appearance helped propel the Mets to the NLCS. Syndergaard would pitch again in Game 2 of the NLCS helping the Mets get a 2-0 series lead on the Cubs after striking out nine Cubs in 5.2 innings. He would not take the mound again until Game 3 of the World Series. With the Mets down 2-0, he would send a message to the Royals that he was 6’6″ away.”
The Mets would win that game and get back in the series. With that win, Syndergaard would become the first ever pitcher to win a World Series game at Citi Field. Unfortunately, he never got to take the mound again in what should’ve been an epic Game 7.
Instead, he took the mound in Kansas City for the second game of the 2016 season. In that game, he unleashed a wicked slider which would be a key to his having a great year, one which he was named an All Star for the first time in his career. Over his first two starts of the season, he tied a club record with Pedro Martinez and Dwight Gooden for the most strikeouts over the first two starts of the season (21).
In that season, Syndergaard developed not only that slider but also a chemistry with Rene Rivera. He would have a number of great games including his two home run game against the Dodgers.
That season, he would also get tossed from a game trying to exact revenge against Utley by throwing behind him. As if that moment was not iconic enough for Mets fans, it created the infamous Terry Collins rant video.
In that season, Syndergaard would lead the league in FIP and HR/9, and he would be second in the majors in pitcher WAR and third in ERA and ERA+. For some reason, he would only finish eighth in the Cy Young voting that year. Despite the voting, one thing was clear – Syndergaard had arrived on the scene as a true ace. The was the type of ace you wanted to give the ball to in a winner-take-all game, which is what the Mets did.
In the Mets first National League Wild Card Game, Syndergaard was phenomenal. Over seven innings, he actually out-pitched Madison Bumgarner, the greatest big game pitcher of his generation. Unfortunately, the Mets were not able to give him the support he needed, and ultimately, Jeurys Familia would allow a three run homer, and the Mets would be eliminated from the postseason.
One interesting fact about Syndergaard is he joined Al Leiter and John Franco as just the only Mets pitchers to pitch in elimination games in consecutive postseasons. Familia would join him in that feat as well.
After 2016, Syndergaard has had difficulty taking the leap we expected. In 2017, he had a torn lat, and as we recently discovered, in addition to the bone spurs in his elbow, he had a torn UCL. Despite the injuries, Syndergaard pitched like an ace level pitcher. For example, in 2019, he was 18th in the Majors in FIP, and he had the second best hard hit rate.
In fact, since his debut in 2015, Syndergaard has the 10th best WAR and FIP in the majors. During that time frame, he has also been etching his name onto the Mets record books. In fact, despite all the hand wringing some commentators have about his ability to strike people out, he has the second best K/9 in team history. He has also demonstrated exceptional control with the fourth best K/BB in team history.
In the end, he has the fourth best FIP in team history. He has also established himself as a big game pitcher who you can trust to take the ball with everything on the line. He has already established himself as the best Mets player to ever wear the number 34.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza
32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey