The Mets made four great starts (in wins) between two below-average attempts (in losses). We may call coincidence that these under-average efforts coincided with the kick-off of Noah Syndergaard against Wilson Ramos. The Mets manager described Syndergaard as "unaffected by anything" when Callaway's sounding board (and sometimes a writing-board) was for Syndergaard's stated desire not to assist Ramos. Callaway continued to call Syndergaard "one of the top five pitchers in the world," something that could only be believed in the past three years when rights to Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera had turned.
That was again to catch Ramos Syndergaard on Friday was negligence, stubbornness or war on the part of Mets. If it had been a punishment, it would have done the Mets' miserable playoff hopes the biggest damage.
Would Syndergaard have done better in a 9-2 Dodgers triumph if Nido or Rivera had caught him? That is not recognizable. What is understood is that Syndergaard's comfort and stat line are far superior to Nido or Rivera. These last two starts with Ramos were identical five-inning, four-run, one-homer results ̵
Before and after the last against the Phillies, Syndergaard informed the Mets about his disillusionment with mating. And then – via an exclusive offer in the post office – the displeasure became public. And yet, the Mets gave Marcus Stroman Nido a second straight start when little Finagling Syndergaard teamed up with one of his favorite catchers.
Maybe the Mets felt the need to get Stroman up and running, or they saw Stroman, but not Syndergaard, as part of the 2020 team. Why, however, devalue the trade value of Syndergaard? More relevant in real-time: why confuse him when every game is so valuable? This loss left the Mets three games out of the second NL wildcard at 15.
Callaway said Syndergaard had made two bad pitches, but one was a tantalizing curve that hit Gavin Lux after a homer with three runs to break a 1-1 draw in the fourth. Maybe that's what happens with Nido or Rivera. But here are facts: Syndergaard has admitted 15 homers in 405 record appearances (one all 27) with Ramos and three in 264 with Nido or Rivera (one all 88).
It seems every Syndergaard can catch when he hummed, as he was the first of three innings, and a Homer from JD Davis ahead of Clayton Kershaw ensured the 1-0 lead. But a one-time 10-pitch walk by Cody Bellinger in the fourth round turned the game. Suddenly Syndergaard was not humming anymore. He is visibly unsettled by the ongoing game and the next two bouts kick singles with men in motion. That brought a run for a draw. Lux, the next batsman, brought three, and the Dodgers were on the run.
Asked if Syndergaard needs one of his cover-walkers most in such tense, action-packed situations, Callaway said, "That's a better question for Noah. "But the answer a manager really should know to recognize a lineup. Of course, he wants Ramos' offensive, but what good is it if Syndergaard lets games get away with a lack of confidence in the defense?
Syndergaard was in defuse-and-downplay mode to clarify who caught him in the fourth: "It's just that I'm pitching."
That's true. This is not an attempt to relieve Syndergaard. He's a talented guy whose best is needed right now, no matter who catches. But Kershaw is the best pitcher of his generation and when he was still in Syndergaard's age he insisted A.J. Ellis, a powerful support. One of the main tasks of a manager is to get the players in the right position to succeed – and that's not happening at Syndergaard right now.
Prior to the game, Callaway, as Mets manager, gave some of the longest and most curvy answers in two years for some questions for Syndergaard and Ramos, as if he wanted to convince himself or reporters or simply protest too much about why The Odd Couple on Friday night was renewed. Callaway knows the numbers. Syndergaard's ERA with Ramos is now 5.20. It's 2.17 in 22 career games with Nido; 2.52 in 29 games with Rivera. The best track from Syndergaard this year was when he was paired with Nido for seven laps in a row.
This is no coincidence. The Mets can continue to act negligently, stubbornly or belligerently. But the biggest loser in this case is not Syndergaard. It is his employer and manager.
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