McDonald: Syndergaard Proving He’s The Warden Of The NL East

Noah Syndergaard is a big Game of Thrones fan.

How big?

For most of his career, the theme song has been his walkup music and you had to see how excited he gets when someone asks him about the show.

So it stands to reason that great episodes put him a good mood and last week we didn’t just get the Stark family reunion, but also the Khaleesi taking control of the Dothraki.

So with that fresh in his mind, Syndergaard took the mound in the Mets biggest game of the season and he mowed down the Nationals faster than Whitewalkers go through Wildlings.

“Look at what he did last fall and he wasn’t fazed by it,” said manager Terry Collins. “He rises to the challenge.”

Facing Matt Scherzer, Syndergaard was very efficient. Seven innings of shutout ball on five hits and 10 strikeouts in the eventual 2-0 Met win. He didn’t stand down against anyone, especially Bryce Harper, who was 0-4 and two strikeouts.

“Their lineup was a really big threat,” Syndergaard said. “I was just trying to make it hard on them. I came in on Murphy and Harper.”

With Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom still trying to find themselves and Steven Matz with a barking elbow, the Mets need Syndergaard to be their guiding light early in the season.

And tonight he established himself as the Warden of the NL East by putting the Nationals on notice.

“We have a lot of confidence in our guys,” Collins said. “He made his pitches on Bryce and that’s why he had success.”

It hard to believe that Syndergaard is only has only the majors for a year and a week. His maturity level increased exponentially as last year went along. He always could throw the ball 100, but he developed his secondary pitches, particularly his slider towards the end of last year’s campaign.

More importantly, he learned how to be not just a pitcher, but a star in New York.

It was Syndergaard, who came in during the seventh inning of Game 5 of the NLDS for his first relief appearance of his life and shocked the Dodgers with triple digits.

It was Syndergaard, opened Citi Field’s first World Series game with a brush-back pitch on Alcides Escobar, and then challenged the whole Royal bench after the game.

It was Syndergaard, who spent the off0season endearing himself to New York with his expertise on social media and appearances around the town.

And this season, it was Syndergaard who early on was the Mets best pitcher and wisely didn’t change a thing, when teams took some liberties on the bases.

The 23 year-old just trusted his stuff and hit his spots.

That leads us to tonight. The Mets lost four in a row, after getting swept by the Rockies, scoring only nine runs at Coors Field. They had to face Scherzer, who no-hit the club the last time they faced him and two of their key cogs in the lineup, Lucas Duda and David Wright were both scratches due to bad backs.

This could have been a recipe for disaster.

But Syndergaard stood tall and proved that he’s the ace the Mets need these days. When things are good, he’s in the middle of it and when the chips are down, he elevates his game to a new level.

In this Game of Thrones, it’s Syndergaard who is easily the early favorite.

 

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