|Noah Syndergaard warming up last Sunday. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Noah Syndergaard will be on the mound for the Mets against Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers on Friday night for the opener of a pivotal three-game series as the Mets close in on a Wild Card spot.
While this is a premier pitching matchup, there was intrigue as to who would be behind the plate for the Mets, as Syndergaard, in a New York Post report Monday, said he preferred having Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera back there instead of everyday catcher Wilson Ramos.
So, after a week in which the big right-hander and Mets management went back and forth on if Syndergaard would get a personal catcher, the question when Thor's next start rolled around would be who would be his batterymate?
The answer is Ramos, as Mets Manager Mickey Callaway explained, "I think that Noah is going to go compete no matter who's catching him, and if we can get the (pitch) distribution where we want it, get the pitches where we want it, it doesn't matter who catches him, we've seen that, right. The second-best game he ever pitched has been with Ramos.
"It's about execution, it's about conviction, it's about belief, so we do also take that into consideration, and there will be times when Nido catches him or Rivera does catch him, like he did the other day (September 2 in Washington), but I think right now, I have faith in Noah that he's gonna go out there and pitch a good game no matter who's catching him, and I also understand that Ramos is going to give us the best opportunity to go score runs off of Clayton Kershaw," echoing one of the reasons he gave earlier in the week for having Ramos back there for Syndergaard.
"There's a delicate balance," Callaway continued. "You have to understand Noah's point of view, obviously. We have to understand that Ramos is a great offensive player, one of our best, and will be hitting in the four spot to score runs, and I think in the end - when I weigh all of those things - that my faith in Noah Syndergaard and who he is and what he can do probably pushes me towards Ramos.
"I don't think that Noah has to have a (personal) catcher. I think it's about Noah Syndergaard and who he is and what he can do, and I have faith that he's going to do that, so I think that that pushes and sways me in that direction probably more than anything."
Callaway was asked about worries about Syndergaard's comfort -which the pitcher has voiced issues with this season - in weighing this decision, "The one thing about Noah is he works so incredibly hard, I mean this guy works harder, takes care of himself, he's so thoughtful in everything he does - leading up to the season, through spring training, in between starts - that I feel like he puts himself in a good mental position to go compete.
"The other thing about Noah, and I've had conversations with him about this, is he's never going to be satisfied, and that is his fuel for all those other times when he's taking care of himself, eating the right way, eating his bone marrow. He does all these things to try to fuel that desire to continue to be greater and greater and he's probably never going to feel that way, right. He can go throw a one-hit shutout, and 'I didn't throw a no hitter, and I should have today.' He's a bit of a perfectionist, and that's a good thing because it drives him to continually work to be the best he can be every day.
"I'm never concerned about his mentality going into a game because he's one of the best competitors I've ever been around. You see him in a game, he really doesn't let anything affect him. Umpire calls a bad pitch, he rarely even makes a grimace. He just keeps on focusing on the next pitch. I never worry about that.
"I think there's a time after his start where you have to pump him up and show him you did a lot better than you thought you did, because he is that guy that's never going to be able to quench that thirst for success. We have those conversations from time to time; I know the pitching coaches have even more with him, but this guy is the ultimate competitor and I don't think he'll let anything stand in his way."