Kershaw grades Syndergaard on curve

Dodgers ace impressed with Mets rookie

Kershaw grades Syndergaard on curve

LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't Noah Syndergaard's high-90s fastball that got Clayton Kershaw. The first time he batted against the Mets' flamethrowing rookie -- in the third inning of the Dodgers' 2-1 loss to the Mets on Friday night at Dodger Stadium -- Kershaw put a clean swing on a knee-high, outside-corner 96-mph heater and grounded out sharply to shortstop. Pulling up just past first base, Kershaw looked annoyed he hadn't hit the ball harder.

No, it was Syndergaard's curveball, the hammer of Thor, that got Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player -- whose curveball is commonly regarded as one of baseball's best pitches.

In Kershaw's second at-bat -- in the fifth inning of a game in which Syndergaard held the Dodgers' deep lineup to one run in six innings and struck out six -- the New York right-hander spun off two especially nasty biters.

Syndergaard's stellar start

The first resulted in an awkward half-swing for strike two. On the second, Kershaw stepped out of and back into the batter's box -- all mid-pitch -- as he realized the pitch was dropping in for a called strike three.

"I mean, I looked like an idiot trying to hit it," Kershaw said. "It was sharp. Prospects are gonna have great breaking balls, we all know that -- it's the ability to command it and throw it for strikes, which he did really well. Which was impressive."

It's a much different curveball than Kershaw's, of course. Syndergaard's is a tight, mid-80s spinner with a much different action than Kershaw's swooping, upper-70s hook.

"Well, it's about 10 mph harder than mine, but it's really good," Kershaw said.

Either way, those were big words coming from a pitcher so good that Syndergaard was honored just to pitch against him.

"It was awesome to step on the same mound on Clayton Kershaw," Syndergaard said. "He's won three Cy Youngs ... so that's pretty cool. It was a lot of fun actually getting to face him. It's awesome just being able to step on the same mound as Kershaw. He's an unbelievable pitcher. A lot of fun to watch."

Mattingly on Kershaw, Jansen

But Kershaw wasn't done. The most electric pitcher in baseball had more to add to his scouting report of the Mets' mega-prospect, ranked among the top 10 in baseball by MLB.com entering the 2015 season.

"He was really good. Really impressed," Kershaw said. "We all know big prospects come up, they're gonna have the stuff. But, you know, he commanded the ball really well, both sides of the plate, threw breaking balls behind in the counts, things like that.

"Just another Texas kid. What do you expect?"

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.