Syndergaard Settling In Nicely

Syndergaard has a 1.03 ERA in six of seven starts

ST. LUCIE, FL – As one of the top pitching prospects in the country and an important puzzle piece in a trade that sent reigning Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey off to Toronto, St. Lucie Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard will have to get used to high expectations. Fortunately for the Texas native, living up to them has not been a problem so far this season.

"I've been very impressed with him so far," St. Lucie Mets manager Ryan Ellis said. "From his first outing here till now, he's made adjustments accordingly and he's made in-game adjustments as well.

"He's a competitor. It seems like whenever he gets some runners in scoring position, he's one of those guys who has an extra gear and he gets at it."

Surprisingly, Syndergaard, who came to the Mets in December 2012 as part of a deal that saw seven players switch uniforms, has been able to sport an impressive 2.61 ERA over the course of 38 innings even though he gave up seven runs in his lone forgettable start against the Fort Myers Miracle.

But while, according to Syndergaard, the rough outing against the Miracle may have been the worst of his pro career, he feels like it does not reflect what kind of pitcher he is and has been all season.

"They're a pretty deadly lineup," Syndergaard said. "But I feel like I had a little bit of bad luck. I think there [were] only maybe two hard-hit balls off of me, a broken-bat single here that happened to bounce off second base, another one fell in the hole right in shallow right center field.

"I don't feel like the stat line was directly correlated to how I threw. There [are] still some positives to take out of it."

One of those positives has been Syndergaard's otherwise consistent play this season which has earned him a 2-1 record in seven starts, alongside 38 strikeouts.

"I've kind of shocked myself a little bit, because last year in Lansing I'd have like one good start, then kind of have a backtrack," Syndergaard explained. "I wasn't very consistent. I feel like this year I've been pretty consistent."

Even though the 20-year-old missed most of Spring Training due to a pulled latissimus dorsi muscle, he was able to improve his game and diversify his pitches over the course of last year.

"Last season I tried to improve my curveball and I did that during Spring Training as well," Syndergaard recounted. "Last year my curveball wasn't very good.

"It was probably 69-70 mph and then the Blue Jays taught me a slider which amps my curveball velocity up to like 79-80 and I just tried to carry that over to this season. It's kind of hard when you're shut down during Spring Training, but I feel like now I've maintained it quite a bit."

But while Syndergaard seems to be well on his way to becoming a very successful pitcher, his ERA rises dramatically whenever there are runners on base [going from a clean 0.00 with the bases empty to 5.30 with runners on and reaching 8.74 with opponents in scoring position]. Thus, one facet of his game Syndergaard needs to work on, according to Ellis, is holding runners.

"He'll get a feel for that and he has gotten a little better with it," Ellis said. "But that's the first thing that jumps out in my mind whenever you ask me that: just controlling the running game a little bit better."

Nonetheless, Ellis is sure that as long as the young pitcher continues to work on his craft and stays hungry, he will progress in a positive manner.

Meanwhile, Syndergaard himself is determined to continually improve and broaden his skillset by working on his fastball command, his secondary pitches and his changeup and curveball. The fact that he has been able to settle into his new home quickly and smoothly, doesn't hurt either.

"I love it here. They've welcomed me very well and I love working with Phil [Regan] and Ron [Romanick], the pitching coordinator. I feel like we've got a lot of chemistry there," Syndergaard concluded. Recommended Stories

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