On a Mets team brimming with young, inexperienced players, Noah Syndergaard is one of the youngest and least experienced. He's well aware of that, and said he makes a conscious effort to try to learn something each day he's at the ballpark.
"You have access to all the knowledge," the 22-year-old said. "It'd be kind of foolish not to tap into it a little bit."
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Syndergaard's first inning against the Rockies on Thursday looked a lot like his tumultuous first inning against the Rays last Saturday: multiple runs allowed, the product of too many fastballs. "Twelve pitches, 10 fastballs," manager Terry Collins said. "Two of them were hit out of the ballpark . . . He was trying to overpower them."
But from there, Syndergaard used what was at his disposal: the wisdom of teammates.
After allowing solo homers by DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado in the first, he spoke with pitching coach Dan Warthen and catcher Travis d'Arnaud, establishing the need to mix up his pitches better.
"A lot of it was my fault. I just got one-finger happy, I guess you could say," d'Arnaud said. "Once we started realizing that they were geared up for the fastball, we were able to realize that and start mixing pitches."
After Syndergaard walked Charlie Blackmon to lead off the third and fell behind LeMahieu 2-and-0, Daniel Murphy jogged over to calm him down. He retired the next nine batters.
After Syndergaard threw seven innings of three-run ball in the Mets' 12-3 win, Collins pulled him aside. "I said that's exactly what we talked about the other day in Tampa [when he allowed four runs in the first]. You tried to overpower them in the first," he said. "You did the same thing today. Now you know what you've got to do. I think the next time out, you're going to see a lot better assortment of pitches in the first inning."
Syndergaard (7-6, 3.07) allowed four hits and two walks, striking out five. He's 7-1 with an 1.82 ERA in his nine home starts.
Curtis Granderson said he noticed Syndergaard's adjustments from rightfield. "The big thing I've seen over the course of the season with him," he said, "is he's always talking to Dan about how to attack the opposition from inning to inning, from at-bat to at-bat. He wants to learn."
Syndergaard is in unfamiliar territory. An elbow injury cost him playing time last year, and he threw only 133 innings with Triple-A Las Vegas. He's already at a combined 1351/3 innings this year, but Collins said he isn't worried about his workload.
"I think we're going to be OK with Noah," he said. "I think he'll be one of the guys that we'll be able to not worry about as we get deeper into September."