Mets Need Noah Syndergaard to Pitch to his Potential in 2018

Noah Syndergaard got the better of the St. Louis Cardinals in a 9-4 Opening Day win Thursday, twirling six innings while looking like the ace the New York Mets so greatly need in 2018. He victimized Marcell Ozuna in his Cardinals debut, punching the slugger out three times before ultimately finishing with 10 strikeouts on the day.

Jose Martinez and Yadier Molina each tagged Syndergaard for home runs and drove in two runs each. They combined for 4-for-7 at the plate, while their teammates were 2-for-26.

He finished the day with 85 pitches, allowing four runs on six hits in his second consecutive Opening Day start. The Mets, under first-year skipper Mickey Callaway, need Syndergaard to stay healthy and pitch to his potential this year.

His first two years in the bigs, he compiled a 23-16 record with a 2.92 ERA in 333.2 IP. He struck out 384 batters over that span. In 2017, Syndergaard and every other rotation member but Jacob deGrom landed on the disabled list. Syndergaard made just seven starts for a Mets club — courtesy of a partial tear in his right lat muscle —  that finished with the least amount of wins since 2009.

When healthy, “Thor” is widely regarded to be a Cy Young Award candidate along with Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and Stephen Strasburg.

After the emphatic #OpeningDay return of their dominant right-hander, the @Mets will need @Noahsyndergaard to play to his potential in 2018.Click To Tweet

He throws a borderline unhittable slider that touches the low-90s, and a fastball that registers triple-digits. He drew plenty of unhealthy swings from the Cardinals, using just three pitches to punch-out leadoff man Dexter Fowler to open the game. Thursday’s outing was a positive sign if the Mets want to get back to the postseason after a one-year hiatus.

The National League East is getting pretty crowded. The Nationals are expected to run away with the division, while the rebuilding Braves and Phillies aren’t too far away from competing. The Marlins, however, might be the worst team in all of baseball this year.

Somewhere sandwiched between those four clubs is the Mets, facing a lot of uncertainty and not many expectations to live up to. If Syndergaard is healthy — along with the rest of Callaway’s staff — he has the ability to pitch the Mets into October for the third time in four seasons.

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