Noah Syndergaard contributed probably his worst outing of the season Saturday against the Brewers, and that wasn’t even the ugliest part of the Mets’ 8-6 loss.
The Mets had three wild pitches, two errors, a passed ball, a baserunning oopsie and at least one mental defensive gaffe when Jeurys Familia picked up a slow roller that appeared to be heading foul, turning it into an RBI single for Christian Yelich. The Mets were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.
The Mets (13-13) are at .500 for the first time this season. Steven Matz will get the ball Sunday opposite Gio Gonzalez, making his season debut, as the Mets try to avoid a sweep.
“You don’t want to make those errors, those mistakes,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “But they’re fighting. It’s not the outcome we want. It doesn’t feel good. But the guys are fighting. We probably do need to a clean up a couple of things that we can control and keep on fighting the way we are.”
Syndergaard allowed five runs and a season-high 10 hits in five innings, with three walks and five strikeouts. He retired the first batter of an inning just once, when Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee’s starting pitcher, struck out looking to begin the fourth.
Syndergaard’s ERA heading into May is 6.35 — the worst mark over a month in his career. His previous high was a 5.14 ERA in June 2015, his second month in the majors.
“A combination of everything,” he said, including a lack of trust in his slider and curveball. “I’m not pressing the panic button just yet. I still have every bit of confidence in my abilities. I’m just not getting the results I want. Something’s not clicking. But I feel like I’m really one split- second from turning this all around.”
This latest stinker came immediately after ace Jacob deGrom pitched poorly (four innings, five runs) in his return from the injured list Friday. The Mets’ rotation has a 5.32 ERA.
Syndergaard’s peripheral numbers aren’t as alarming as the surface-level ones. He entered Saturday striking out 27.6 percent of his batters and walking 5.7 percent, about in line with his career norms. His FIP — fielding independent pitching, which attempts to measure a pitcher’s run prevention without considering the defense behind him — was 2.93.
The runs Syndergaard allowed were not all of the well-earned variety. One scored on an error, two on Eric Thames’ grounder through the right side.
But in the fourth, Syndergaard allowed a pair of solo homers by Ben Gamel, a journeyman outfielder with minimal power, and to Yelich, the reigning NL MVP. Yelich’s was his first on the road since Sept. 25 and his 14th this season, tying a major-league record for homers before May 1 (Albert Pujols in 2006 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007).
Syndergaard prepares plenty, Callaway said. And talent isn’t the issue. All that’s left is for him to “execute pitches.”
“We’re just not doing that,” Callaway said. “You can’t point to any one thing that keeps you from executing. It’s probably something different for every person, and the bottom line is we have to start getting it done.”
In Syndergaard’s case, Callaway said he doesn’t know what is preventing him from executing pitches.
“A coach can’t identify that,” Callaway said. “That’s what the player needs to figure out.”
Syndergaard said of what executing means to him: “Having conviction in every pitch I throw, as opposed to thinking what my delivery is doing.”
The Mets’ late comeback bid fell short. Amed Rosario (solo shot) and Pete Alonso (three-run homer) went deep in the seventh, but Familia allowed Milwaukee two runs in the eighth.
Called on for a six-out save, the Brewers' Josh Hader struck out five of his six batters.
“We just got to pitch better,” Callaway said. “Our hitters are keeping us in the game, trying to come back, and we’re not holding them.”