Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ frequently annoyed potential ace, seems to be annoyed again.
This time it is again the issue of who is behind the plate when he pitches. Over the weekend, Syndergaard discussed his lack of comfort pitching to Wilson Ramos with GM Brodie Van Wagenen and manager Mickey Callaway, Van Wagenen said. Syndergaard prefers backups Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera, with whom he is more successful.
A report from the New York Post on Monday afternoon said a “livid” Syndergaard “confronted” pitching strategist Jeremy Accardo and Callaway about having to pitch to Ramos. Callaway downplayed and talked around the issue Monday evening, saying, “He hasn’t confronted me about anything.”
“You can’t make everybody happy, and it’s not about making guys happy,” Callaway said. "It’s about winning at this point. I’m not worried about what guys’ preferences are. We understand that we make the lineup out and they go compete.”
Syndergaard did not discuss the issue Monday, leaving quickly after the Mets’ win against the Diamondbacks, despite a Mets spokesman saying pregame that Syndergaard would give a postgame interview. But his batterymate has been a point of discussion — and friction — for much of the season. Van Wagenen framed it as “ongoing dialogue.”
“We had an opportunity to hear his thoughts, we were able to share information with him and have an ongoing conversation about what’s in the best interests of the team and what gives us the best chance to win,” Van Wagenen said. “Noah has expressed his feelings with his \[low degree of\] comfortability of throwing to Wilson. I respect him for sharing those feelings. We listen to him. He understands our thought process that he may have other catchers catch him.”
The Mets this season consistently have refused the idea of pitchers having a personal catcher, and that is especially true given Ramos’ recent offensive performance. He was hitting .335 with a .472 slugging percentage in the second half heading into play Monday.
But Syndergaard feels more comfortable with Nido and Rivera, and the numbers reflect that. He has a 2.45 ERA in 10 starts with Nido, but a 5.09 ERA in 15 games with Ramos. Syndergaard has pitched to Rivera once this year, seven shutout innings last week against the Nationals, but had Rivera as his personal catcher in 2016, his best season.
On the season, Syndergaard has a career-high 4.06 ERA.
Callaway said he “always” tells starting pitchers who will catch them three or four days ahead of their start. “So they can start prepping,” Callaway said. “I told him it was Ramos.” But Van Wagenen said that when he spoke with Syndergaard on Saturday, the Mets had not decided who would be paired with the pitcher Sunday.
Syndergaard struggled Sunday — with Ramos behind the plate — allowing four runs in five innings against the Phillies.
Ramos homered in the first inning.
Is Van Wagenen worried about Ramos being frustrated or angry about Syndergaard not liking to work with him?
“I believe Wilson is motivated to go out and win every time he steps out on the field and I’m confident that he’ll continue to do that,” Van Wagenen said.
Callaway said he “absolutely” believes this issue is over. Van Wagenen said he is “excited” both players are under the Mets’ control for 2020, but seemed ready to continue to deal with this.
“We’re a family down there,” Van Wagenen said. “In a family dynamic, relationships have to be managed and we have to bring out the best of each person on a daily basis. I think that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Syndergaard speaking his mind is not a new development, and he has done so on several occasions this season alone. Toward the end of spring training, before the Mets and Jacob deGrom agreed to a long-term contract, Syndergaard said the Mets should “pay the man already.” That was in the same riff in which he ripped the Mets’ pre-Opening Day workout in Syracuse, saying, “I don’t know whose idea that was, but it’s not a smart one.”
In July, Syndergaard said being consistently followed by trade rumors “is getting kind of old.”
He was also the subject of trade talks last offseason. Every time the subject is raised, Syndergaard says he is happy to be with the Mets.
“I appreciate Noah communicating his thoughts,” Van Wagenen said. “One of the things that I value in this organization is that we don’t suppress feelings and harbor ill will.”