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Thor's Mighty Hammer Rings Philly's Bell

Noah Syndergaard was a superhero both on the mound and at the plate as the Mets blow the Phillies out to cap the sweep with a 7-0 win.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Noah Syndergaard was a superstar today, exactly what the Mets hoped for when they acquired him along with Travis d’Arnaud for R.A. Dickey three long offseasons ago. As if the numbers weren’t impressive enough in his 7 shutout innings (6 H, 6 K, 0 BB) , there were several bright spots beyond the box score that showed genuine development taking place in a prospective ace.

The first promising sign was the poise he carried about himself from his first pitch and maintained until his last. He came out slinging, hitting 100 miles per hour in the first inning, with the type of movement on each of his four different offerings that few mortals possess. He has now opened his career with four straight games without allowing a baserunner in the opening frame.

Yet as the game progressed, he seemed to dial back each offering a little bit in the interest of having greater command. When he ran into minor trouble in the third inning with one out after pitcher Sean O’Sullivan and Ben Revere strung together back-to-back singles, Thor broke out his hammer ("Mjollnir," for the uninitiated). Having been criticized for relying on his fastball too much in the minors, today he turned to his curveball to get some big outs. He got Freddie Galvis off-balance with a wicked 80 mph hammer drop for a swinging strike and a 1-2 count, leaving the hitter a shade late on the ensuing 98 mph heater, which Galvis skied to center for the second out. With Chase Utley at the plate, Syndergaard spun four straight curves to various spots around the zone, dropping as low as 76 mph from his customary low 80s. On this last one, the veteran Mets-killer could only muster another routine flyout to Juan Lagares.

This chart from Brooks Baseball shows how Syndergaard worked his curve around the strike zone to good effect in the Utley at-bat:

And this one shows how he varied speed and movement on his deuce during the at-bat.  Note the use of a high hard breaking ball out of the zone in Pitch 3 with an 0-2 count to set up another high hard breaker in the zone which dropped a couple mph in velocity, resulting in Utley being just a little out in front on his swing:

In addition to pitching like a veteran in a tight spot—he only had a slim 1-0 lead at the time—it was also good to see Syndergaard go deep in a game for the first time and show that he knows what he needed to do to get there. He kept his pitch count down early, and cruised through a 1-2-3 sixth for the first time after having lost steam there in his previous three starts. Then in the seventh he gave up back-to-back singles to open the inning, which elicited a trip to the mound by Kevin Plawecki and Dan Warthen.

They ordered up low fastballs for Obdubel Herrera, which Syndergaard located well and induced a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play. The Phillies had their first runner of the day reach third base, but Thor was now primed to crush the threat.  He did so with a flourish, alternating devastating 77 mph curves and running 97 mph fastballs, none of which Cameron Rupp could touch. Rupp could only look on helplessly at a 3-2 heater on the outside black for a called strike three.

Syndergaard came out for the eighth inning, recording an out when Danny Muno made perhaps the nicest play by a Mets third baseman this year, going full Superman on a hot shot down the line. Almost as impressive was his strong and accurate throw to first for the out after gathering himself. At this point, Syndergaard left at 105 pitches to a standing ovation from the crowd of 24,406. More performances like this might make both the crowd and their roar bigger in the near future.

It would be extraordinarily remiss not to add of Syndergaard’s performance: He looks like a major league hitter at the plate. The Mets may have just gotten a bench upgrade with his call-up; he could legitimately serve as a pinch hitter—if you’re willing to risk exposing his pitching hand, as he is a left-hander swinger. He is now 4-for-9 at the plate after a perfect 3-for-3 day, owning a swing both sweet and powerful.

His two singles today were both rips and impressive enough.  But in a surprise plot twist, Thor hauled out his lesser known weapon, the ax known as Jarnbjorn, in the fourth inning. With it, he smashed a low outside fastball well over 400 feet just left of center for his first big-league home run.

This was just one of four awe-inspiring home runs for the Mets on the afternoon while some other promising offensive trends continued. Lucas Duda slammed two solo shots, the second a line drive that sent the Phillies bullpen scattering, and now has eight long balls and a .939 OPS on the year. He went 3-for-4 with a ringing double to the left-center gap as well. Michael Cuddyer launched a hanging curve into the second deck for the second time this series, and suddenly finds his batting average up to .262 after a 2-for-3 day. Daniel Murphy is scalding the ball right now, adding another three hits today along with his team leading 25th RBI.

This three-game sweep of Philadelphia puts last weekend's sweep endured in western Pennsylvania firmly in the rear view.  A favorable schedule looms, giving the Mets the opportunity to return to winning ways while solidifying their status as a contender. With the expected return of d’Arnaud soon and Steven Matz dominating the Pacific Coast League, they may have the means to do so.

SB Nation GameThreads

* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* The Good Phight GameThread

Win Probability Added

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Big winners: Noah Syndergaard, +25.2%; Lucas Duda, +17.2%; Daniel Murphy, +10.0%; Michael Cuddyer, +9.9%
Big losers: Sean O' Sullivan, -30.3%; Freddie Galvis, -7.3%; Curtis Granderson, -6.3%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda's home run in the first, +12.2%
Teh sux0rest play: Ben Revere's single in the third to put two on and no out, -3.4%
Total pitcher WPA: +19.8%
Total batter WPA: +30.2%
GWRBI!: Lucas Duda