New York Mets: Noah Syndergaard must pitch to contact

Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

Noah  Syndergaard must learn to pitch to contact in order to go deeper into games for the New York Mets.

When it comes to New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, the team is in a bit of a catch 22. Everybody knows the type of explosive arm he has. It not exactly is a regular thing to have a guy that can hit 100 MPH on the radar gun. “Thor” arguably has the best pure stuff since Dwight Gooden came on the scene in 1984.

However, to be a real star you have to be able to pitch deep into games. As John Carroll pointed out, Syndergaard has a difficult time doing that. The numbers don’t lie and they bear out this very problem. So far in 2018, Syndergaard is averaging a mere 5.2 innings per start. For his career he averages under six innings as well. We know how dominant he is, but that simply isn’t long enough.

This type of start is going to tax the bullpen over time. With all due respect to the work of Sandy Alderson, the bullpen isn’t all that good. It can’t handle pitching three and four innings each and every night. The Mets need their frontline starters to go deeper into games and bridge the gap. Using three and four pitchers every night to get to Jeurys Familia is not the best idea.

So let’s talk about efficiency and Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard is a strikeout pitcher and the numbers certainly bear that out. In 2018 he is fanning 10.6 batters per nine innings and 10.4 for his career. His record is only 3-1 and his ERA is 3.14, just off the pace from his career low of 3.24. The strikeouts aren’t what make a pitcher.

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In comparison, take a look at Clayton Kershaw. The season he won his first Cy Young award was 2011 when he boasted a record of 21-5. That year his strikeouts per nine innings came in at 9.6 and his career number is 9.9. He has had some outlier seasons where he was over ten per nine innings but you see his average.

Kershaw averaged over seven innings per start in 2011. How did he do it? He pitched to contact. If he isn’t striking batters out, obviously they are making contact. Kershaw is allowing the batter to put the ball in play.

He trusts his stuff so much that he knows that if the batter makes contact it is going to be weak. Why pitch like that? Isn’t it better to get it done yourself? In this case, not always. Strikeouts are fun for all of us to watch but they drive up the pitch count.

First pitch fly balls to center field aren’t exciting to watch, but they keep the starting pitcher in the game longer.

Another relevant example is Ervin Santana. Last season he won 16 games against only eight losses. He pitched 211.1 innings and averaged over six innings per start. Guess what? His strikeout number was lower also. He only struck out 7.1 batters per nine innings. He trusted his stuff and pitched to contact.

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Noah Syndergaard has some of the most electric stuff in all of baseball. This there is no doubt. But he gives the ball up to the bullpen too quickly. All of his strikeouts are translating into too many pitches. With Mickey Callaway as the manager, we already know we have a guy that is going to the bullpen quickly.

Syndergaard needs to pitch to contact and stop surviving as a five inning pitcher.