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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Catcher issue shows Noah Syndergaard is no Jacob deGrom

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard delivers

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard delivers against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning of an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Hey, Noah Syndergaard. You want a personal catcher like Jacob deGrom had last year with Devin Mesoraco?

Sorry, pal. Pitchers with 4.06 ERAs don’t get personal catchers. Cy Young Award winners do. Hall of Famers such as Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux do.

Even the 2016 version of Noah Syndergaard did. Where’d that guy go?

That seemed to be the message Mets brass was sending when manager Mickey Callaway started Wilson Ramos behind the plate on Sunday even though Syndergaard had just lobbied to anyone who would listen for Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera.

Thor just doesn’t have the hammer here. Nor should he.

According to the initial New York Post report, Syndergaard went to Callaway, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and pitching coordinator Jeremy Accardo to express his preference for ABR (Anyone But Ramos).

Why did Syndergaard stop there? Maybe he should have also lobbied the guy who sells hot dogs in Section 123, the parking attendant in the players’ lot and Mr. Met, who since he doesn’t speak would have sadly shook his giant head from side to side.


It’s a word kids don’t hear often these days. But Syndergaard is no kid anymore. He turned 27 on Aug. 29, which is when you would think he’d be in his prime. Instead, Syndergaard is having his worst season. He’s 10-7, but with a career-high ERA.

A better measure is his ERA-plus, which calculates his standing among his peers. The league average ERA-plus is 100. Syndergaard’s is 101.

So he’s 1 percent better than average. With his stuff, that just should not happen, no matter if it’s Wilson Ramos or Wilson the volleyball from that Tom Hanks movie behind the plate.

But if Syndergaard is worrying about who his catcher is — and continuing to worry about it after the Mets tell him politely to buzz off — then that could be a clue as to why he isn’t pitching up to his pedigree.

In 2016, Syndergaard went 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA. His ERA-plus was 155. His future seemed limitless and he did get to pitch the majority of his games (23 of 28) to Rivera in the catcher’s first stint with the Mets.

But the difference now is Rivera wasn’t backing up Ramos, who even after going 0-for-4 in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Arizona, is batting .402 since the start of August. Ramos recently had a 26-game hitting streak. Rivera and Nido have exactly 26 hits between them this season.

On Sunday, Ramos hit a two-run homer in the first to help stake Syndergaard to a 3-0 lead against the Phillies and went 3-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs. That had to help as much as game-calling or pitch-framing or blocking curves in the dirt or whatever it is Rivera or Nido do better than Ramos, no?

Syndergaard gave up the lead in his five innings and the Mets went on to a 10-7 defeat. Then word of Syndergaard’s catching preference leaked and all heck broke loose at Citi Field.

On Tuesday, Syndergaard was asked if the Mets have explained why deGrom could have Mesoraco in 2018, but Syndergaard can’t have his pick today.

“No, they really haven’t,” he said. “But watching what those two did last year was like watching Bob Ross paint a painting. Everything was calculated and it was artful.”

Bob Ross, if you’re not familiar, was the host of the PBS show “The Joy of Painting” who became an Internet personality after his death in 1995.

An a-plus reference by Syndergaard, who was born three years before Ross died.

But Syndergaard is aware that the deGrom-Mesoraco kinship wasn’t enough to keep the catcher on the Mets’ roster this season. Somehow, someway, deGrom learned to throw to Ramos and is in the mix for a second straight Cy Young.

After his last outing Monday, when he allowed one run in seven innings in a win against the Diamondbacks, deGrom made sure — unprompted — to praise Ramos for his defensive chops.

DeGrom knew full well about the Syndergaard-Ramos controversy in the air when he said that. Wonder if Syndergaard got the message. Wonder if he’ll ever get it.

New York Sports