PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In terms of pure, unfiltered stuff, few in baseball can challenge Noah Syndergaard. He knows it. The Mets know it. And with all due respect to Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, it's that type of skill set that gives Syndergaard the rarest sort of potential.
"There's always a debate about who's going to be the best," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "This kid's got a chance to be the guy."
Collins spoke those words in the aftermath of the Mets' 7-2 win over the Cardinals, a breezy affair in which Syndergaard starred. For three innings in his Grapefruit League debut, Syndergaard buzzed mid- to upper-90s fastballs across the plate. He kept the Cardinals wholly off-balance, allowing just one hit while demonstrating that the Mets' recent proclamation -- "He's in midseason form," more than one of them said last month -- may well be true.
"I felt great out there," Syndergaard said. "It was just nice getting out there and getting my feet wet. I was a little amped up. But overall, it was a pretty solid performance."
A learning curve does still exist for Syndergaard, who has less than a full big league season on his resume. In particular this spring, Syndergaard is working on refining his changeup and adding a slider, both of which could help him reach a new level.
Almost certainly, he still has valleys to traverse. But the peaks now seem high enough to create a sense of wonder around Syndergaard this March.
"He learned a lot and learned fast in the Major Leagues," Collins said. "He asked a lot of questions. He asked the right questions. And he got better. I think he's coming into this camp knowing he's a big league pitcher. Because he listens, he knows he's got to work on some stuff and he's gone about it the right way."