If you are looking for a top pitcher in Major League Baseball outside of Chicago and who is not named Clayton Kershaw, you don’t have to go very far. The New York Mets employee such a hurler and his name is Noah Syndergaard. While the rest of the baseball world continues to marvel (and rightly so) at the exploits of Kershaw, Jake Arrieta and Chris Sale, somehow, almost quietly, the 23-year old Syndergaard is producing quite the dominating campaign of his own. Simply put, he has become the Mets’ staff ace, a title he doesn’t seem to be relinquishing any time soon.
After shutting out the Milwaukee Brewers for seven innings on Sunday, Syndergaard has now put together a streak of 18 consecutive scoreless innings. This lowered his ERA to 1.94 over 60 1/3 innings pitched. In his nine starts, the 6-foot-6, 260 pound right-hander has pitched seven or more innings five times and has only pitched less than six innings once. Perhaps most astounding for the man they call Thor is his number of strikeouts compared to walks issued. Syndergaard has struck out 76 batters, good for fifth in all of baseball while issuing only nine walks. His WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched) is 0.98, tied for fifth and in his brief career, he has fanned 242 hitters and walked only 40 in 210 1/3 innings pitched.
So what makes an ace other than dominating numbers? It’s something that can’t be quantified solely by numbers. Maybe it’s the nickname, maybe it’s the hair. But there is definitely the attitude. Syndergaard’s imposing frame and demeanor on the mound that harkens back to true aces of the past like Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan. It’s that look on the mound that says, “You are not beating me today”. It’s also the reputation you get when you are not afraid to throw inside or make someone feel uncomfortable in the batter’s box. Just ask Alcides Escobar about it. That one pitch, the first one of Game 3 of last year’s World Series, the only contest the Mets won, set the tone for that game allowing New York to emerge victorious. That is what staff aces do.
Countless words have been written and spoken about the riches of the current crop of New York Mets’ pitching. Debates have raged as to who would be the one to emerge as the team’s number one starter. The time for Matt Harvey to take that mantle has come and gone. Though loved by fans, it isn’t going to be Jacob deGrom, because on this team, he has never been truly looked at as a staff ace. First, it was Harvey that tended to overshadow him and now it is Syndergaard. The book is still too young on Steven Matz. So perhaps this is still an open-ended debate. But for now, there is no argument. Noah Syndergaard is the ace of these 2016 New York Mets.
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