For much of the season, there has been a prevailing idea that, should the Mets make the playoffs, they must re-jigger their rotation to ensure that Noah Syndergaard does not pitch on the road. It may seem hard for some to remember, but it took the Mets' electric rookie up until August 25 to record his first victory away from Citi Field. With every unsuccessful road start, the concerns over Syndergaard's road struggles got louder.
Most stats support the idea that Syndergaard is much more successful at home. In 77 innings at Citi Field, Syndergaard has a 2.57 ERA, with a ridiculous 8.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio, while holding opposing batters to a .562 OPS. In 66 innings on the road, his ERA balloons up to 4.23, his strikeout-to-walk ratio "shrinks" to 3.81, and his OPS against inflates to .753. These striking differences prove that Syndergaard would be better off pitching at home in the playoffs, right?
Well, sure. Ideally, Syndergaard would get to pitch in his familiar, pitching-friendly, home ballpark. Same goes for Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, both of whom also have stark home/road splits. Harvey's career ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio at home are 2.10 and 5.52, respectively, compared to 3.13 and 3.90 on the road. Over his first two seasons, deGrom has a minuscule 1.92 ERA at Citi Field, which jumps to 3.33 on the road.
Depending on how the final week of the season plays out, at least one or two of these young aces will have to start a game in Los Angeles, and despite a common line of thinking, there's no reason Syndergaard can't thrive in that situation. Syndergaard's home splits come with a .247 BABIP, while his road splits come with an unsightly .335 BABIP. More importantly, it's foolish to make blanket statements about a pitcher's abilities based on roughly two-thirds of a season. Once Syndergaard is able to accrue enough innings that his stats start to regress towards the mean, the discrepancy between his home and road splits will almost certainly shrink. In fact, Syndergaard has pitched brilliantly in his last two road starts, allowing just three earned runs over 14.2 innings pitched, striking out 19 and walking just one. In his last two home starts, the 23-year-old has allowed nine runs in 12.2 innings pitched.
While he'd likely feel more comfortable pitching in front of his home fans—who wouldn't?—there's no reason to think that Syndergaard can't quiet the Dodgers' offense on the road. In his lone start in Dodger Stadium, Syndergaard held the NL West champions to two hits and one run over six innings, which is not bad for a guy who can't pitch on the road.