PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets made official Tuesday what had long appeared obvious: Righthander Noah Syndergaard will start Opening Day.
Manager Mickey Callaway announced Syndergaard will get the ball — March 29 at Citi Field against the Cardinals — after Syndergaard’s fourth spring-training start. He threw 81 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) against the Astros.
Righthander Jacob deGrom, who seemed like the likely pick until lower back stiffness delayed his spring schedule, will start the second game on March 31, which will keep him on normal rest.
“[Syndergaard] did a great job this offseason getting his body where it needed to be,” Callaway said. “We think that’s a pretty good 1-2 coming out of the gate.”
Syndergaard, 25, also started Opening Day last year. He is the first Met to start consecutive openers since Johan Santana did it three seasons in a row from 2008-10.
An All-Star in 2016, Syndergaard missed most of last year with a torn lat, but was good when healthy. He had a 2.97 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in seven starts.
This spring, Callaway’s first as Mets manager, Syndergaard has impressed his new boss with his results (two earned runs, 18 strikeouts in 13 innings), ability and demeanor.
“He is serious when it comes to pitching and baseball. There is no doubt about it,” Callaway said. “Seeing him live is something special, the way the ball comes out of his hand. He threw a 95-mph slider today. We’re looking at each other like, was that a fastball? What was that? It is a sight to see.
“This guy is all business when it comes to baseball and the way he works toward it. It’s really fun to watch.”
DeGrom was healthy and effective (3.53 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) last year, but the minor physical setback ruined his chance of making what would have been his first Opening Day start.
“He earned it based on what he did last year,” Callaway said, reiterating a sentiment he has expressed repeatedly this month. “It just didn’t make sense to us to try to push it to get him ready for Opening Day.”
Another primary opening-days rotation option for the Mets would have been to throw deGrom in the third game. That would break up him and Syndergaard, the team’s top starters and the ones most likely to pitch deep into games, and perhaps help manage the bullpen’s workload.
Callaway said we wasn’t concerned about that.
“After the first start, days off come into play,” Callaway said. “You can do whatever you want with the rotation.”