It doesn't seem like that long ago when the Mets were credited for having the best starting rotation in baseball. We were all excited for the five-headed monster that was the Mets pitching staff. From the years 2012 to 2016, Matt Harvey was the ace, Zack Wheeler was the perfect number two behind the Dark Knight who could just never seem to stay healthy, Jacob deGrom came off of a 2014 ROTY campaign and we all know what he has become since, Steven Matz was the proud hometown boy who had a strong rookie season in 2015, and Noah Syndergaard was the young flamethrower that everyone seemed most excited about after his debut against the Chicago Cubs on May 12th, 2015.
After Noah Syndergaard's departure from the New York Mets on Tuesday, November 16th, only one man from the Mets feared starting rotation remains on the team.
Noah Syndergaard was selected 38th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2010 MLB Draft, and was then traded two seasons later to the Mets along with catcher Travis d'Arnaud, John Buck and Wuilmer Becerra in return for 2012 National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas.
The big acquisition for the Mets in that trade was supposed to be d'Arnaud -- who ended up being the Mets starting catcher from 2013 to 2019 -- but little did the Mets and their fans know that Syndergaard would be the breakout star to emerge from the deal.
Syndergaard had a strong rookie season, posting a 9-7 record, 3.24 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 150 innings pitched on route to helping the Mets win the 2015 National League Pennant. Syndergaard made headlines around the league for his fastball that would reach speeds upwards of 101-102 MPH, earning him the nickname "Thor" for his raw power, long blond hair and huge stature (6'6", 242 LBS)
Syndergaard started Game 2 of both the 2015 NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs where he pitched 5-2/3 innings, striking out nine batters, allowing one run and three hits while securing the W for not only himself but the Mets as well.
Thor was already a fan favorite in New York at this point, and was slowly solidifying himself as one of the bright young stars in the league, but it wasn't until Game 3 of the 2015 World Series where he really placed himself among Mets lore. After watching Kansas City Royals shortstop and leadoff hitter, Alcides Escobar, swing at the first pitch of the last two games, Syndergaard thought he'd send a message with the following first pitch of the game:
The at bat ended in a strikeout for Syndergaard, Citi Field went wild, and the "60 feet, 6 inches away" comment was born. Syndergaard would go on to be the only Mets pitcher to win a game in the 2015 World Series, as New York would win Game 3 at Citi Field 9-3.
2016 was Syndergaard's biggest year of his career. After Matt Harvey's fall from grace, after Jacob deGrom's and Steven Matz's injury plagued year, and after Zack Wheeler was shutdown for the season once again, Syndergaard put the Mets on his back and had a monster season.
Syndergaard posted a 14-9 record in 2016 with a 2.60 ERA, 218 strikeouts, 1.15 WHIP over 183 innings pitched, earned himself an All-Star nod, finished 8th in NL Cy Young voting, and 19th in NL MVP voting. Syndergaard finished the season leading the league in homeruns per 9 innings (0.5) and Fielding Independent Pitching with a 2.29 FIP.
Not only was Syndergaard electric on the mound in 2016, but he flashed his skill with a bat as well. Syndergaard racked up 11 hits, 6 RBI's, and smacked 3 homeruns, two of which came in one game against the Dodgers in LA in one of Noah's most memorable games.
You know what else Syndergaard became famous for in 2016?! The viral Chase Utley "our ass is in the jackpot now" game, a game in which I was sitting in the right field bleachers for (my small claim to fame)
Viewer discretion is advised
Now, I know those hitting stats are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but for a pitcher?! It's pretty dang good. The only other pitcher that rivaled Syndergaard with a bat was San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who was in consideration for the homerun derby at one point in his career, so, yeah that's pretty cool company to be in.
This wouldn't be the last time Syndergaard dueled Madison Bumgarner that season, as the Mets secured home field advantage in the 2016 NL Wild Card game, against none other than the SF Giants.
In one of the most impressive pitching battles I have ever seen in my life, Syndergaard and Bumgarner matched each other pitch for pitch, inning for inning. Syndergaard struck out 10, allowed only 2 hits and 3 walks in 7 scoreless innings. Bumgarner struck out 6 Mets, gave up 4 hits and 2 walks in 9 scoreless innings.
San Francisco would go onto win the game after Conor Gillaspie hit a three run homerun off of Mets closer Jeurys Familia (surprise surprise) in the 9th inning.
The rest of Syndergaard's tenure with the Mets would be a disappointment, but not through faults of his own or due to poor performance. Syndergaard would suffer an injury plagued 2017 season, only starting 7 games that year and pitching 30 innings.
2018 would be a bit better, as Syndergaard saw himself return strong from injury and post a 13-4 record, 3.03 ERA, throwing 2 complete games, and striking out 155 batters in 25 games started and 154 innings pitched.
2019 was a super down year for Thor. While he did start 32 games and pitch 197 innings that year -- the most in his career -- he also saw his ERA jump to a career high 4.28, allowed a career high in hits (194) runs (101) homeruns allowed (24) and walks (50)
Syndergaard also lead the league in earned runs with 94. Noah missed the entirety of the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
After only pitching 2 innings in 2021, the Mets would extend an $18.4 million qualifying offer the Syndergaard as he hit free-agency for the first time in his career. Noah would turn down the offer, instead signing a one-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
In 6 seasons with the New York Mets, Syndergaard would make 3 postseason appearances -- winning two -- posting a W-L record of 47-31, a career ERA of 3.32 with 777 strikeouts, and making an All-Star appearance in 2016.
Good luck in Los Angeles, Thor! You will always be loved in Queens and will always have a home here at Citi Field.