Mets Game 33: Loss to Cubs
Cubs 6 Mets 1
Noah Syndergaard‘s much-anticipated debut ends early, and results in a loss.
Mets Game Notes
I don’t like to make evaluations or conclusions based on a pitcher’s MLB debut, for at least two reasons. First, and the most obvious, is that the pitcher could have been affected by nerves — and this can cause either negative or positive results, if you agree that “nerves” include extra adrenaline that might not flow quite as massively going forward. Second, if the pitcher does well, it could have been due to the mirage of mystery. So in assessing Syndergaard’s first start, I’ll be brief and keep it as general as possible:
– the young man throws very hard; he reached 98 MPH on several pitches
– his fastball has good movement, both vertical and horizontal
– his secondary pitches have the potential to be good, though they need to be more consistent
– speaking of needing consistency, he needs to repeat his delivery
– speaking of his delivery, it needs to be corrected before he repeats it
The TV broadcast didn’t provide enough angles for me to make any kind of evaluation of Syndergaard’s mechanics in terms of timing. I really hate the centerfield camera, and really, really hate that all baseball TV producers think we’re not interested in seeing multiple angles of the pitchers’ motions. But, I guess I’m in the minority.
Syndergaard pitched very well through the first five frames, though he struggled a bit in the third after a
Daniel Murphy error “infield single” by Kris Bryant. (Seriously? That’s scored a “hit”? Maybe by a high school coach padding the stats for his All-County star.) The extra pitches Syndergaard threw that inning eventually caught up to him, as he ran out of gas in the sixth. The big man struck out 6 and walked 4 in 5 1/3 innings; hardly dominating, but certainly encouraging for a 22-year-old making his debut against what may be one of the top three or four lineups in the NL.
While on the subject of that lineup … wow, the Cubs are for real. I was surprised at their pitch recognition; Syndergaard had serious velocity and movement, and the Cubs hitters, for the most part, were able to lay off pitches that moved out of the zone. Kris Bryant is a beast. Anthony Rizzo may be one of the top five hitters in the National League. Jorge Soler is a beast in the making. Addison Russell has the makings of a beast. And Starlin Castro may finally be fulfilling the potential for which everyone has been waiting. Dexter Fowler and Miguel Montero — both formidable offensive threats in their own right — are ancillary in this lineup. Oh, and there may never be room for slugging Javier Baez to return. If the Cubs get decent pitching, they might make a serious postseason run.
I mentioned Starlin Castro, and will mention again that he might finally be growing into the superstar he’s supposed to be. For someone whose scouting report supposedly includes “poor fielding,” Castro is pretty darn slick with the glove. I had heard that he was working diligently on his defense over the past year and a half, and maybe it wasn’t PR spin — he made some very nice, athletic plays in the first two games of this series. Perhaps Russell’s presence at second base and as heir apparent to the shortstop position has motivated Castro to up his game a notch?
Is anyone else completely befuddled by the Cubs’ defensive alignment when Daniel Murphy comes to the plate? Who are their advance scouts? Or did they get their scouting reports on a K-Mart blue light special? For the past seven years, Murphy has been mostly a punch-and-judy hitter who slaps singles to the left side. So why, exactly, do the Cubs play him to pull? It’s as mysterious as pitchers who throw Murphy pitches on the outside part of the plate when runners are in scoring position — it’s exactly the region of the strike zone that Murphy has made a living. Stunning.
While on the subject of Murphy slapping balls into left field, you may have witnessed Curtis Granderson make an irresponsible and feeble attempt to advance to third base from first on such a single. Kids, there are two rules to remember: 1) never, EVER make the first (or third) out at third base; 2) never, EVER advance to third when the ball is in front of you. Pretty simple stuff. A runner CAN advance to third on a ball hit to left field, but it has to be so deep or so toward center that it’s behind you; in most cases, that’s only going to happen on a) a hit-and-run; or b) a high school/rec field where there is no outfield fence.
Is the Mets bullpen finally cracking? Is the pitching staff in general falling to Earth in terms of limiting baserunners? After pointing out the fact that Mets pitchers allowed the fewest walks in baseball, they’ve walked 13 batters in two games. Oy!