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Thor, Mets’ bullpen smacked around in loss to Cubs

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Noah Syndergaard still can’t right the ship.

MLB: New York Mets at Chicago Cubs Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

In another rough start for Noah Syndergaard, the Mets fell 7-4 to the Cubs on Monday. Syndergaard continued his season-long trend of being oddly hittable, allowing nine hits over six innings. The bullpen didn’t do the team any favors, either, allowing three more runs in two innings of work, and a bases loaded opportunity in the ninth went wasted.

Both teams got off to fast starts. Amed Rosario singled, stole second, and scored on Austin Jackson’s single to give the Mets a run before they recorded an out. The Cubs, meanwhile, managed four hits from the first four batters - including, of course, one from Met killer Daniel Murphy - to tie the game at one before stranding runners at the corners. In the second, the Mets struck again, first on a 472-foot bomb of a home run from Michael Conforto and then an RBI single from Amed Rosario after Kevin Plawecki and Noah Syndergaard walked with two outs. Noah Syndergaard had a two run lead.

Syndergaard was very much not in peak form, however, and his recent struggles continued. The Cubs made consistent, hard contact, and there was constant traffic on the basepaths. After he danced around trouble in the second, a double, walk, and a wild pitch led to the second Cub run of the game in the third. An infield single that should have been ruled an error off the glove of Todd Frazier kept the inning going, and Kyle Schwarber was intentionally walked to load the bases for Jon Lester, a notoriously bad hitting pitcher. Fittingly, Lester ripped a single to left, and the Cubs took a 4-3 lead.

Both starters managed to settle down from that point, and neither team scored in the fourth, fifth, or sixth innings. Syndergaard still clearly wasn’t himself despite the improvement in baseline results, finishing his outing with three walks and nine hits allowed in only six innings, striking out six. There’s certainly some BABIP misfortune baked in there, but Thor has also become too predictable - he stubbornly throws all his pitches in the same velocity range and in the bottom of third of the zone. Hopefully he can spend the offseason refining his pitch mix, hopefully working his slower curveball back and learning to use his fastball up in the zone more often.

The offenses got cooking again in the seventh. Steve Cishek replaced Jon Lester and promptly served up a game-tying home run to Kevin Plawecki leading off the seventh. Once again, the Cubs immediately responded, with doubles from Anthony Rizzo (replay aided, as it landed just fair down the left field line) and Ben Zobrist giving the Cubs a new lead. Jose Reyes couldn’t get to what should have been a ground ball out, and the Cubs eventually added another run on an RBI groundout.

Daniel Zamora entered for the eighth and showed off his funky stuff, striking out Daniel Murphy and Javier Baez before giving up a solo home run to Anthony Rizzo that stretched the Cub lead to 7-4. A walk to Jose Bautista and singles from Kevin Plawecki and Jay Bruce loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth, but the Mets couldn’t pull off the comeback. Amed Rosario chased a fastball that was six inches out of the strike zone to strike out, and Austin Jackson was called out on strikes after watching two balls well out of the zone be called as strikes by home plate umpire Eric Cooper.

The loss drops the Mets to 58-73, putting them on a 71-win pace. Jacob deGrom looks to continue his Cy Young campaign against Cole Hamels on Tuesday evening, hopefully with Jeff McNeil back in the lineup.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Kevin Plawecki, +22.7% WPA; Michael Conforto, +11.6% WPA
Big losers: Jerry Blevin, -30.0% WPA; Noah Syndergaard, -14.1% WPA; Wilmer Flores, -12.4% WPA; Jose Reyes, -11.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Kevin Plawecki homers to tie the game in the top of the seventh, +19.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jon Lester gives the Cubs a 4-3 lead with a two-run single in the third, -19.4% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -43.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: -6.1% WPA
GWRBI!: Ben Zobrist