There was a lot of talk this week about whether or not Noah Syndergaard's start on Friday would be his last in the majors for a while. With his service time accruing and the Super-Two deadline likely coming sometime in mid-June, there were at least rumors that Syndergaard could be sent back to the minors. Despite a poor result, the 22-year-old looked like a pitcher who belonged in the bigs again tonight, so much so that Terry Collins reaffirmed after the game that he would be sticking around.
Syndergaard's start was not flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but he limited the damage as best he could. After giving up an automatic double that was barely a fair ball to Pedro Alvarez, he gave up a run in the second when Gregory Polanco rifled a ball through Lucas Duda. The ball was hit well, but instead of getting in front of it, Duda tried to play it to his side and it went between his glove and leg into left field. The defense was an issue all night, as Kevin Plawecki made a weak throw on a stolen base attempt by Polanco, and then let a ball get past him to move Polanco to third, eventually allowing him to score on a Chris Stewart single.
Syndergaard was mostly good from the point on before running into trouble in the sixth. Andrew McCutchen slapped a double to right field and was moved over by Starling Marte. Jung-Ho Kang then chopped a ball past Daniel Murphy, who was playing a shallow second base, and McCutchen scored. With Kang on first, Syndergaard attempted to throw over, but the ball got past Duda, who had a chance to still get Kang at second, but the first baseman mysteriously held the ball.
Syndergaard then made a rookie mistake. With Kang taking a big lead at second, he failed to notice or even look him back. Perhaps it was partially on Plawecki or the rest of the defense to alert the pitcher, but it was seemed like a learning moment for the pitcher. Kang took off for third and made it there uncontested.
The Mets paid for that when Pedro Alvarez flew a fairly shallow ball out to left field. Michael Cuddyer made a very weak throw to home plate, and Kang scored. Although the Mets never came back to the point that it mattered, the throw was a good example of the kind of night the Mets had. Syndergaard got burned by defense, and it was by players who were uncharacteristically bad.
The most concerning defensive performance came from Kevin Plawecki, who has let more than his fair share of balls get behind him in the past few weeks, including a costly one tonight. His arm was noticeable, too, when his throw on Polanco's steal attempt was weak and off the mark. For a player who was supposed to be competing for a starting job, Plawecki's defense has been concerning, and his hitting certainly hasn't buoyed his play otherwise.
The Mets' offense was another point of interest, as it only threatened to score twice in this game. The first of those times came in the second inning, when Gerrit Cole threw a ball that bounced at Curtis Granderson's feet, allowing Juan Lagares to score. Kevin Plawecki, who had moved Lagares over, was stranded at third. The only other real pressure the Mets put together was getting two runners on to start the ninth, but Duda popped up, and Michael Cuddyer grounded out to end the threat. The offensive woes have become commonplace, and the Mets have to be hoping that David Wright and Travis d'Arnaud are back to playing rehab games next week if they want to get back to even having an average offense.
It should be noted that although the offense was brutal again, Cole was excellent. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out ten Mets hitters and only walked one. He was consistently working all over the zone, and although he wasn't getting a ton of whiffs, he threw seven pitches that were well below the strike zone that were swung on and missed.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Juan Lagares, 7.1% WPA
Big losers: -19.3% WPA, Noah Syndergaard, -16.5% WPA, Lucas Duda, -12.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Curtis Granderson grounding into a double play in the second, -12.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -15.0% WPA
Total batter WPA: -35.0% WPA
GWRBI!: Chris Stewart