Since the Mets announced in late June that Noah Syndergaard was pitching with a bone spur in his elbow, his ERA has taken a turn for the worse, but a closer look at the numbers suggests the spike may not be as worrisome as it seems.
Over his last seven starts, dating to June 27, he is 1-4 with a 3.99 ERA, after going 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA in his first 14 starts, though Syndergaard said his health is not the problem.
“My arm feels great,” he said Monday afternoon at the Citi Noah Syndergaard Baseball ProCamp at LIU Post. Of the bone spur, he said “it changed the workload that I do in between starts. I don’t nearly throw as much, trying to keep the quantity of how many pitches I throw in my bullpen down.
“The last start still wasn’t the result that I wanted,” Syndergaard added, “but in terms of how I felt on the mound . . . I feel really positive and confident in finishing the season strong.”
He allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings against Detroit on Friday, but this optimism may still be warranted, considering his velocity is essentially unchanged and his defense-independent numbers remain strong.
From last season to this year, Syndergaard’s average velocity has increased on all five pitches he throws, including his fastball, which has increased from 97.8 miles per hour to 98.9, according to BrooksBaseball.net. Even over his last seven starts, his average velocity has not deviated significantly from his averages from April through June.
Over his last seven starts, Syndergaard’s 19.2 percent strikeout-minus-walk per batter rate is outpacing the National League average of 13.1 percent, and his 0.7 home runs per nine innings rate is better than the league average of 1.1.
His ERA increase during this stretch can mostly be attributed to his .416 batting average allowed on balls in play (BABIP), an inconsistent metric that is prone to fluctuation, particularly in small samples. Syndergaard allowed a .319 BABIP in his first 14 starts this season and a rate of .279 last season.
Expected regression here would help improve Syndergaard’s results going forward, which would be a boon to a Mets team that is nine games out of first place and two games behind Miami for the National League’s second wild-card spot.
“We look at where we were last year,” Syndergaard said. “We stay resilient and we’re able to bounce back really quickly.”