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For the Mets, Noah Seems Nowhere Near Ready for a Callup

by Guy Kipp | Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2014
Syndergaard has not been impressive at Triple-A this season. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Syndergaard has not been impressive at Triple-A this season. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Mets fans who are even aware of the existence of CBS-SN on their channel lineup may have missed the fact that the network broadcast a Las Vegas 51s game on Thursday night.

For informed Mets followers still stinging from the parent club’s 5-2 loss to the Pirates earlier that evening, settling in at 10 p.m. EST to watch touted prospect Noah Syndergaard fire fastballs against the Sacramento River Cats (the A’s Triple-A affiliate, right on the heels of the varsity Mets and A’s splitting a two-game series this week) seemed to be a palatable way to wind down the evening.

Since the beginning of spring training, the general assumption has been that Syndergaard would follow the path of Matt Harvey in 2012 and Zack Wheeler in 2013 and be ready for a call-up from Triple-A around June or July.

Don’t count on it.

What viewers witnessed was exhibit A of why the tall right-hander seems to still be quite a ways from making his major league debut, despite boasting a 97-mph fastball. Syndergaard was unable to escape a bases-loaded jam in the third inning, and never made it to the fifth, allowing five hits, five earned runs and three walks in four innings pitched. He threw 89 pitches.

What it looked like suspiciously resembled Zack Wheeler’s awful start against the big-league Athletics the night before, when Oakland sat on Wheeler’s first-pitch fastballs and chased him after just two innings. Syndergaard and Wheeler might have the best fastballs of any starting pitchers in the Mets’ organization, but Syndergaard at Triple-A seems to still be seeking the same elusive consistency that Wheeler has yet to find at the major league level.

After Thursday night’s outing in Sacramento, Syndergaard has a 5.35 ERA. Even allowing for the fact that the Pacific Coast League environment inflates offense, that’s a performance that will keep the big righty a long way from Citi Field for the rest of the summer.

Dillon Gee is on his way back from a shoulder blade injury and was the Mets’ best starting pitcher the first two months of the season, and starting pitching is not an area that cries out right now for reinforcements anyway. And Rafael Montero, who was up for a few starts in May, has earned more right to come back from Vegas (where he is 4-2, 3.75) before Syndergaard does.

Give Syndergaard until September and see how he does in a few late-season starts. By then, the Mets will have probably “shut down” one or two of their starters who have reached whatever internal innings limits they have had placed on them and Syndergaard can be offered as a reason to watch the Mets, who’ll probably be otherwise flailing en route to another 75-ish victory season.

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