When it comes to the Noah Syndergaard catching situation, it’s not personal.
Mickey Callaway said Wednesday that it’s a “likely possibility” that Wilson Ramos will catch Syndergaard for his start Friday — the newest turn in a saga that culminated Tuesday, when Syndergaard said he was no longer concerned with who caught him. Reports circulated Monday that Syndergaard petitioned front office officials to have either Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera serve as his personal catcher. The reports were later confirmed by general manager Brodie Van Wagenen in a press box news conference, and then Syndergaard himself. Ramos has not commented on the situation.
Ramos, who caught for the fourth straight day Wednesday, would need a rest day on Thursday, Callaway said. That lined him up to catch Friday, because the Mets can ill afford to keep his bat out of the lineup for two straight days. Syndergaard, though, has had more success with the two backup catchers. His ERA with Ramos is 5.09. Rivera was Syndergaard’s personal catcher in 2016, and Nido’s catcher ERA with Syndergaard is 2.45. Jacob deGrom had a personal catcher in Devin Mesoraco during his NL Cy Young run in 2018, but with the Mets now in a playoff race, he does not have a personal catcher.
As for Friday, Callaway couched his overall comments. While it certainly seems now that Ramos will start, “we haven’t posted that lineup yet and anything can happen,” the manager said.
“I wouldn’t just go ahead and print that he’s catching that day because anything can happen…but Noah obviously understands at this point that whoever is in the lineup, he’s going to go ahead and compete [with]. He’s recognized that to me. I think that he’s recognized that to everybody and I’m proud of him for that.”
Syndergaard has the highest ERA of his career, at 4.06, despite having stayed relatively healthy throughout the season. His strikeouts per nine innings are also down from two years ago, from 10.1 to 9.1. Ramos, meanwhile, has an overall catcher ERA of 4.49 (compared with Nido’s 3.76). Rivera has appeared in only three games this season (his catcher ERA is 2.25). Ramos also has a minus-8 strike zone run saved, according to FanGraphs, meaning he’s allowed about eight more runs than the average catcher. Nido and Rivera are more or less average.
And though there’s been little said about if or how this has affected the rest of the club, Syndergaard insisted Tuesday that he has nothing but respect for Ramos, who came into Wednesday’s game against the Diamondbacks hitting .298 with 14 homers. Ramos also leads the National League in batting since Aug.1, hitting .402 in that span. He also had a 26-game hitting streak.
Callaway said he wasn’t worried about there being a little extra charge in his battery Friday. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility — original reports said that Syndergaard was “livid” at having to pitch to Ramos. Syndergaard denied that Tuesday. But still, the fact that the report leaked at all could be cause for concern. Callaway said he didn’t perceive there to be a strained rapport between the two.
“I think they’re total professionals and everybody on that room understands that, ‘I might get to play [or] this guy might get to play,’ but they’re all going to go out there and give their best effort,” Callaway said. “I’m not really concerned about that.”