Noah Syndergaard calls the rotation a staff of “five aces” but based on last year, we all know which one towers above the rest.
The Mets’ Opening Day starter is ready for a new season and ultimately wants to be the one to lead his club back to the World Series.
Like Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden and even Johan Santana in the past, Syndergaard is ready to take the mantle of Mets ace from some of the most recognizable names in team history.
“It’s a really cool feeling to be in the same sentence as those guys,” Syndergaard said at dreary Citi Field today. “Those guys were legends. They had great careers and I hope to follow in their footsteps.”
And by that, he doesn’t mean just opening day wins, but to follow the career path of Seaver and have a season like Gooden’s in 1985. And frankly, if anyone is going to do it, it’s the 24 year-old Texan.
At the beginning of the season, it’s easy to speak in hyperbole, but truth be told, Syndergaard has a chance to have the Mets best season, since Gooden won 24, when “Back to the Future” was playing in the theater.
Since then, David Cone, Frank Viola and R.A. Dickey all won 20 games for the Mets, but none of them had the dominance Dr. K did at the age of 20.
Now the Mets have someone like that in Syndergaard. He’s not just a pitcher. He’s an event.
We all know Syndergaard can throw harder than any starter in the league. He averaged 98 m.p.h. on his fastball. And when he gets his slider over, he can be deadly.
This season, Syndergaard also will be sporting a change-up, which is the same motion and arm angle, which going into the catcher’s mitt 10 to 12 m.p.h. slower.
Now understand, pitchers work all the time on new pitches in spring training and many times that work is left in Florida. But Syndergaard seems pretty confident he will be using the change-up “20 percent” of the time.
“I feel as pitchers – as a staff – I feel we get very fastball heavy,” he said. “Last year as a pitching staff, when we mixed it us, we were able to have more success so you will be sure to see my changeup in action.”
Now, Syndergaard has his personal catcher Rene Rivera the whole season, who help keep him in line.
“He feels like an older brother to me,” Syndergaard said. “He’s completely honest and will tell me when I sucked. He also tells me when I’m doing things (well). I am really blessed to have him on this team.”
With that fastball, a changeup and his catcher to keep him in line, the formula is there for a historic season from Syndergaard.
Frankly, the Mets are going to need him too. With the Nationals looking like another powerhouse and Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants looking to dominate, Syndergaard needs to be the one to help lead the Mets into the promised land and back to the World Series.
Two years-ago he was a rookie and last year, Syndergaard adjusting to a league that adjusted to him. Now, in 2017, it’s time to dominate.
And remember, both Seaver and Gooden won the World Series in their third seasons. It’s now Syndergaard’s turn.