Thor K's 11, then says: 'I think I'm staying put'

July 31st, 2019

CHICAGO -- is tired enough of hearing his name in trade rumors that he has taken to joking about it on social media, changing his profile description to “Pitcher for the New York Mets, for now.” He admitted late on Tuesday that speculation is always in the back of his mind. It is, in his words, “getting kind of old.”

Yet perhaps he can stop fretting. After striking out a season-high 11 batters in the Mets’ 5-2, 11-inning win over the White Sox on Tuesday, Syndergaard does not expect the Mets to deal him before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

“I don’t think anything’s going to happen,” Syndergaard said. “I think I’m staying put.”

That’s more than an educated guess for Syndergaard, who has been in contact with the Mets’ front office “a little bit here and there.” The mere fact that the team allowed him to start Tuesday’s game at Guaranteed Rate Field was an indication that nothing is close.

Through his communication with team officials, Syndergaard doesn’t expect that to change.

And why not? More and more, the Mets have incentive to keep this group intact. When and hit consecutive homers to give the Mets the lead in the 11th, it allowed the Mets to win their fifth consecutive game -- their longest streak in more than 15 months. It also moved them within five games of a National League Wild Card spot at a rather interesting time -- less than a day from the Trade Deadline.

The Mets are playing some of their best, most consistent, most complete baseball of the season, thanks in large part to Syndergaard. In four starts since the All-Star break, he has a 1.91 ERA, with 36 strikeouts and seven walks.

“You can tell his confidence is back,” catcher said.

In particular, Nido said, Syndergaard has restored trust in his mid-90s slider, which he’s once again comfortable throwing in any count. Combine that with the type of 99-mph fastballs Syndergaard featured for much of Tuesday night, and it’s no mystery how he can be a dominant pitcher. Add some changeups to lefties and curveballs for a change of pace, and the greater wonder may be how anyone hits him.

“That was probably the best I’ve seen him,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He had everything working.”

Of course, had Syndergaard been this dominant all season, the Mets would not be in this position on the morning of Deadline day: fourth place in the NL East, still trailing six clubs in the Wild Card race. Had closer not endured such a rough season, blowing another save on Tuesday on a pair of ninth-inning walks, a hit batsman and two wild pitches, the Mets might be facing a different reality.

Even after nearly tripling their Fangraphs postseason odds over the past week, the Mets still sit at 15.5 percent. In other words, a long shot.

That’s why general manager Brodie Van Wagenen may still choose a plan of action on Wednesday, potentially dealing , Diaz, or others. Such trades have always been possible for the Mets. It’s just that now, the players within the clubhouse more desperately want to avoid them.

Perhaps they will. Earlier this week the Mets became buyers, not sellers, in acquiring . Add him to a rotation featuring Syndergaard, , Wheeler and , and the Mets -- in the clubhouse, if not the front office -- feel they may be on to something.

“I still hope everyone is in this clubhouse tomorrow, past July 31,” Syndergaard said, adding, “The sky’s the limit still.”

“If we can get a couple more wins,” added McNeil, “who knows where we’ll be?”