Mets' ace has not allowed a walk or HR in four starts this season
By Joe Trezza
Even on nights when the dribblers squeeze just inside the line, when the bloopers drop in between the mist and the occasional extra-base hit, Noah Syndergaard makes sure each at-bat against him remains a daunting chore.
Syndergaard wasn't at his best in Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Phillies. His first defeat of 2017 came courtesy of a season-high five runs against, including a season-high three of which were earned.
But even in defeat, Syndergaard continued to showcase a combination of power and command rarely seen in Major League history. The positives come in the peripherals, and they're phenomenal. Syndergaard stepped on the mound and 10 more strikeouts followed. Once again, no walks were allowed. Once again, no pitches left the yard.
That made it four starts this season for Syndergaard without allowing a walk or a homer. That's not just the best mark in the bigs, it's tied for the best streak to start a season in Major League history, matching Adam Wainwright's streak in 2013. Wainwright recorded 28 strikeouts over 29 innings during his run.
Syndergaard has struck out 30 over 26 innings.
"To put up those kind of numbers is truly remarkable," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It's unbelievable."
Syndergaard burst on the scene in 2015 with long hair, an arm that rivaled the strongest in Major League history, and many questions regarding whether he could learn to harness it effectively. Less than two years after his debut, Syndergaard isn't just the premier power pitcher in the Majors -- he's the only starter to hit at least 100 mph with his fastball this season, and he's done it nine times -- but he's also the premier control pitcher in the bigs, at least in the early going.
Syndergaard's 26 consecutive innings to start the season without allowing a walk is a Mets franchise record, and it is the 12th-longest streak in Major League history. His 26 innings to start the season without allowing a walk or homer is the fourth-longest stretch, behind only Babe Adams in 1920, Red Lucas in '33 and Wainwright.
All of this makes Syndergaard the poster boy for advanced stats like Fielding Independent Pitching. Syndergaard led the Majors with a 2.29 FIP mark last season, and he's back atop the leaderboard again in 2017 with a microscopic 0.73 FIP.
None of this is meant to color Syndergaard as unbeatable. It merely means he rarely beats himself. Even when he's not at his best, Syndergaard makes it tough on the opposition.
"I give a lot of the credit to the work with [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen]," Syndergaard said. "It makes pitching as easy as it can possibly be, because it's really tough sometimes."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.