Odin will be pleased.
Despite warming up multiple times in Game 5 of the Division Series and pitching an inning of relief against the Dodgers, Noah Syndergaard has been tapped to start Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Cubs on Sunday night, Terry Collins said.
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Thor -- who name-checked his mythical father, Odin, on Twitter after the Mets clinched on Thursday -- has been pretty mythical himself in these playoffs despite taking the loss in NLDS Game 2. He routinely hit 100 mph on his fastball that game and eventually took the loss after Chase Utley's infamous slide broke Ruben Tejada's right leg in the seventh.
In Game 5, Syndergaard warmed up four times as Jacob deGrom tiptoed in and out of trouble. He pitched the seventh inning and retired the side, allowing only a walk.
"He said, 'I'm feeling great, I'm not stiff, I'm not sore,' " Collins said. "And I said, 'Well, then you've got tomorrow.' "
Syndergaard estimated he threw only about seven to nine pitches every time he warmed up, though Collins said Saturday that it was closer to 80 total. That said, the 23-year-old righthander insisted that he felt no fatigue and that his arm "never felt better."
"I feel like I handled it well and got advice from some of the veteran arms down there," he said. "My arm felt great."
That's certainly good news for the Mets and Collins, who have temporarily moved Steven Matz to the bullpen. With Syndergaard on deck for Game 2, he can pitch twice if the series goes long, and he'll give them the extra advantage of a pitcher who can go toe-to-toe with Jake Arrieta, the Cubs' Game 2 starter.
Syndergaard was 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA in the regular season and got progressively better as he learned to use his breaking balls more effectively.
Arrieta is a devastating foe. His 22 wins are tops in the major leagues and his 1.77 ERA is second best.
"We like the matchups," Collins said, using colorful language to describe going against four aces in the course of two playoff series. "This is just like the Dodgers. We've got two of the best in the game we've got to face" in Jon Lester, who pitched Saturday night, and Arrieta.
And while Syndergaard understands that the task won't be easy, this season has changed him as a player and as a person, he said, and has given him the confidence to think he's up to the challenge. Late in the regular season, he noted that he's transitioned from a thrower to a pitcher, and on Saturday, he doubled down on that notion.
That fastball -- the one that caused "oohs" at Chavez Ravine when it crept toward 102 mph -- is rendered even more devastating by his hammer curve, a plus changeup and the recent addition of a (downright unfair) slider.
"This year has been something else for me," Syndergaard said. "It's pretty hard for me to comprehend as well, just the sequence of events that happened. I went from last year to not getting called up, to a lot of people doubting me as a big-league pitcher . . . and I feel like I've made a lot of strides and grown."
One thing, though, hasn't changed.
"My gamer [will be] a Thor glove," he said. "It's got 'Thor' on the side. Pretty self-explanatory."
Odin is pleased, indeed.