For a player who had put up 3.3 fWAR over 19 starts entering Sunday, there has certainly been a bit of an air of disappointment regarding Noah Syndergaard’s 2018 season. Syndergaard’s previous start against the Cubs was a rough one, where he has hit hard, allowing four runs in six innings. Questions as to when fans might see the dominant outings Syndergaard’s stuff seems to promise only increased. Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, Syndergaard responded with his best start of the season—and first career complete game—in an exciting 4-1 Mets victory.
After both teams went down in order in the first inning, Todd Frazier led off the top of the second by lining a double down the left-field line. Michael Conforto then deposited the very next pitch deep into the right-center field stands in cavernous AT&T Park to stake Syndergaard to an early 2-0 lead.
The Giants managed to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third. With one out, Alen Hanson hit a line drive to right. Brandon Nimmo whiffed on a diving attempt to snag it, allowing the ball to roll to the wall, giving Hanson a triple. Syndergaard got to 0-2 against Chris Stratton, but served up a sacrifice fly to the opposing pitcher to cut the lead to one.
The game remained 2-1 for some time, as Syndergaard started to cruise. The Mets threatened again in the seventh when Todd Frazier once again led off an inning with a double. Conforto ripped a shot up the middle seemingly ticketed for center, but Hanson robbed him, turning it into an out and holding Frazier to third. He would be stranded there after a Brandon Nimmo walk when Austin Jackson grounded into a double play.
It felt like a lost opportunity, and a Mets fan could be forgiven for envisioning a scenario with the Mets stuck at two, and a bullpen squandering Syndergaard’s outing. But Syndergaard pitched around a Jay Bruce error in the bottom of the seventh, and this time, there would be insurance runs and there would be no bullpen. Tomas Nido led off the eighth with a single, and after a Syndergaard sacrifice and an Amed Rosario single and stolen base, Jeff McNeil lined a clutch two-run single up the middle to extend the lead to 4-1.
Syndergaard cruised through the eighth and ended the top of the ninth in the on-deck circle, so it was pretty clear he would start the ninth. He promptly removed any drama about whether or not he could finish it, striking out Gregor Blanco and getting Joe Panik on a lazy fly out to left before ringing up Evan Longoria to close out his first career complete game in style with his eleventh strikeout of the day.
Syndergaard wound up retiring 20 of the final 22 batters in a dominant outing. He followed excellent outings from Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz in the first two games of the series, and extended an incredible stretch from the Mets’ starting pitching, with a 1.61 ERA over the past 15 games. Jacob deGrom gets his chance to extend this excellence when the Mets travel to Los Angeles to meet the Dodgers fresh off their series victory over the Giants.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Noah Syndergaard, +45.8% WPA, Michael Conforto, +11.7% WPA, Todd Frazier, +10.0% WPA
Big losers: Austin Jackson, -16.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto’s two-run home run in the top of the second, +14.3%
Teh sux0rest play: Austin Jackson double-play ground out in the top of the seventh, -12.7%
Total pitcher WPA: 45.8% WPA+
Total batter WPA: 4.2% WPA+
GWRBI!: Michael Conforto