Syndergaard arrives to get acclimated for debut
Mets' top prospect tabbed for Tuesday start against Cubs at Wrigley Field
PHILADELPHIA -- The first call was obvious to top Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard.
The tall right-handed starter had just been notified on Friday afternoon that he would join the Mets in Philadelphia and was set to make his Major League debut on Tuesday at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. The first call is usually obvious, but on a weekend that is dedicated to mothers across the country, there was no question whom he had to call.
"My first call was to my mother," Syndergaard said on Saturday after arriving at Citizens Bank Park and participating in the pitchers' stretch. "She said it was an awesome Mother's Day present. We teared up a little bit and then I called my dad.
"I've been dying to do that every since I picked up a baseball."
Syndergaard was with Triple-A Las Vegas in El Paso when word trickled down that Mets starter Dillon Gee had a mild groin strain. Last September, Syndergaard learned a hard lesson when he let his emotions get to him after he wasn't called up when rosters expanded. That lesson, and a lot of hard work, paid off this year as the 22-year-old focused on his game for a 1.82 ERA with 34 strikeouts in five starts with Las Vegas.
"I heard in the clubhouse [Gee] may have suffered a groin injury, but I really didn't think about it," said Syndergaard, who had a 19-inning scoreless streak end in his last start. "When I got called into the office, then I had a gut feeling."
Syndergaard is another in a line of young players to join the Mets' roster, including Matt Harvey, Dilson Herrera and Kevin Plawecki. For Syndergaard, Plawecki is a key factor, because they were teammates in Las Vegas and have bonded on and off the field. It will be Plawecki behind the plate on Tuesday for Syndergaard's debut.
"He's got a live fastball, we all know that," Plawecki said. "His command has been really good, when I was down [in Triple-A] I saw that. He mixes in change of speeds really well, and that's something I know he's been working at."
One of the factors for Syndergaard to overcome will be adjusting to the big league spotlight, something the Mets tried to ease a bit by having him arrive Saturday.
Manager Terry Collins has repeated over the past two days that he wants to get Syndergaard acclimated to the clubhouse, and despite a resemblance to a comic-book hero -- his glove is stitched with "Thor" -- the Mets aren't looking for a superhero effort. Instead, he'll have a few days with the team before he takes the mound in front of family and friends in one of the most revered parks in baseball.
"Last year I paid too much attention [to when I was going to get called up]," Syndergaard said. "This year I just went out every five days and tried to deliver a quality performance. It just continued over from what I did in Spring Training.
"Right now my mechanics are on point. That has helped me stay within myself and deliver quality pitches, one at a time."