Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mets' Noah Syndergaard brings, faces heat in World Series Game 3

Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard — or you can just call him “Thor” — faces the Royals tonight.

Associated Press

Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard — or you can just call him “Thor” — faces the Royals tonight.

NEW YORK — The man-child on the mound was simply getting some work in, two simulated innings to sharpen up for the World Series.

It was late afternoon at Kauffman Stadium, dimmed by dark clouds on this overcast day in Kansas City, Mo., and even his Mets teammates wanted no part of 6-foot-6 Noah Syndergaard.

David Wright bounded into the batting cage, watched a few fastballs whizz by like pellets fired from a BB gun, and stepped right back out.

"How are you supposed to hit that?" he asked teammate Michael Cuddyer.

Tonight Syndergaard will not only throw heat, he'll face it.

With the National League champs trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven Fall Classic, the 23-year-old thunderbolt aptly nicknamed "Thor" pitches against Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura.

And the Mets know perfectly well they can't afford to lose.

"I feel like being able to watch the past two games has really helped me out and helped me devise a game plan," Syndergaard said.

His fastball averaged 97.1 mph this season, the highest of any major-leaguer who pitched at least 150 innings, according to STATS. Ventura, 24, ranked third at 96.3 mph.

But Mets aces Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom also throw hard — 95-98 mph — and neither could throttle a Royals lineup that has mastered the art of consistently making solid contact.

"This team likes the fastball," said AL Championship Series MVP Alcides Escobar, the first batter Syndergaard will face. Kansas City's aggressive leadoff man is batting .364 with 12 runs, eight RBIs and seven extra-base hits this postseason.

"It's something else being able to watch Escobar walk up there and swing at the first pitch almost every single game," Syndergaard said. "I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I'll be able to break out (tonight). I'm looking forward to it."

Despite all the attention his fastball draws, the rapid development of Syndergaard's secondary pitches has been the key to his immediate success.

"The amount of confidence that I've gained throughout this entire season and the journey has been an unbelievable experience for me," he said.

After making his big-league debut in May, Syndergaard picked up a two-seamer that runs to his arm side and fine-tuned his changeup. He gained control of his sharp slider without losing the ability to bend in his slower curve.

Veteran Cuddyer used the words maturity, transformation and evolution in describing Syndergaard's season, which he finished with a 9-7 record and 3.24 ERA with 166 strikeouts in 150 innings.

Then the right-hander from Mansfield, Texas, near Fort Worth went 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA in three NL playoff games, including his first career relief appearance.

Ventura generates velocity with a whip of his slender frame, perhaps generously listed at 6 feet. Syndergaard, by contrast, is a 240-pound hammer who revels in his larger-than-life image.

With long, golden locks flowing out from beneath his baseball cap, 11 letters to that unusual last name arched around his shoulders on the back of a Mets jersey, Syndergaard resembles some sort of Viking pitcher sent from the ancient past.

Syndergaard was given the moniker Thor — the Norse god known for ferocious storms — after tweeting a photo of himself in costume doing squats on Halloween two years ago.

Before his NLCS start against the Cubs, Syndergaard changed the photo atop his Twitter page to a shot featuring lightning striking Chicago's famous Willis Tower. For the World Series, it's bolts descending on the Kansas City skyline.

"He's a unique guy," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "His name was mentioned to open up the World Series. That's how well we think he's pitching."

Mets' Noah Syndergaard brings, faces heat in World Series Game 3 10/29/15 [Last modified: Thursday, October 29, 2015 9:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)

    Golf

    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays journal: Rays gamble on Sergio Romo's track record, heart

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Some of RHP Sergio Romo's numbers this season with the Dodgers were the worst of his career, yet the Rays feel he can be a good fit for their bullpen.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Sergio Romo #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the 9th inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on June 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
  5. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.