The Giants are in the postseason, and now they’ll have to face a long-haired obelisk of Asgardian pitching perfection. This seems less than ideal. But, as Aristotle once said, "It is ... what it is", and now we have to figure out just how the Giants are going to do against Noah Syndergaard and his 100-mph fastball.
Oh, hush. Defeatism is so last week. Besides, the Giants have faced Syndergaard three times, and they’ve won two of those games. This isn’t a sentence of doom. It’s one of the best possible postseason pitching matchups, and it’s happening in a loser-go-home stress fest. Fun! Kind of.
Syndergaard is a genetic freak, and the government should probably remove him from this game to study him, if we’re being quite honest. The Mets have had a miserable time with injuries this year, losing Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler, which is so incredibly cruel. That sort of season is exactly why I was frothing at the mouth when the Giants couldn’t hit in 2009; there’s never a guarantee all that pitching will be around when you really need it.
But in a one-game playoff, the Mets are as dangerous as any team in baseball. They’re 19-11 when Syndergaard pitches (compare that with the Giants going 20-14 in Bumgarner’s starts). It would have been a lot cooler if they had to use him in a 163rd game before Wednesday, but then Bartolo Colon would start, and I’m scared of him, too.
Pitchers. Those are the guys who seem to have the Giants’ number. If the other team is starting a pitcher, ugh, look out. Syndergaard just happens to be one of the best.
He also had a higher OPS+ and as many home runs as Bumgarner, too. This should be fun, unless it isn’t. Let’s look back at the three games in which Syndergaard faced the Giants.
Game 1 - 6/9/15
Giants 5, Mets 0
Syndergaard: 6 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR
Four-seam fastball: 35
The average velocity of the fastballs was 97.6 mph, and it was 97.1 for the sinkers. Cripes.
Matt Duffy, he wrote, a single tear streaming down his cheek. Also, Buster Posey had a pair of line-drive singles.
You might not remember Syndergaard pitching this particular game. But you do remember the game.
Chris Heston threw a no-hitter, and it distracted you from the fact that the Cavaliers were about to blow a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
Game 2 - 5/1/16
Giants 6, Mets 1
Syndergaard: 5⅔ IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR
Four-seam fastball: 22
The sinker averaged just 96.4 mph this time. Slacker. Note the move away from the curveball, as well as the preponderance of fastballs.
Hunter Pence hit a dinger off Syndergaard, the first one he had allowed all season.
Then he did this:
You think me strange? #thor pic.twitter.com/qTkP9B8qAz— Hunter Pence (@hunterpence) May 2, 2016
Madison Bumgarner started the game and picked up the win. So it’s possible!
Santiago Casilla appeared in the ninth inning and didn’t allow a run. So it’s possible!
Unlike the first matchup against Syndergaard, which relied more on grounders finding a hole than the box score indicated, the Giants hit the ball hard pretty consistently. If you look at where his pitches went in the zone (courtesy of Texas Leaguers), you can see why:
It’s not just the pitches in the zone; it’s the pitches that weren’t close to tempting. If he gets them close to the strike zone while still keeping them out, he’s impossible.
Like in, say, this game ...
Game 3 - 8/21/16
Mets 2, Giants 0
Syndergaard: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO
Four-seam fastball: 40
Average fastball velocity for both the fastball and sinker: 98 mph. Well, shoot.
Uh, N/A? Joe Panik and Eduardo Nuñez each had a hit. Brandon Belt and Trevor Brown each took a walk. Both Nuñez and Brown were thrown out stealing. The Giants didn’t get a runner to second against Syndergaard, and he faced just one batter above the minimum.
So, no, there was no winner for the most successful hitter in this particular game. It was as dominant an outing as we’ve seen all year.
In my opinion, Noah Syndergaard should not pitch like that again.
I mean ...
THAT’S A SLIDER. HOW DO YOU HIT THAT? STOP THAT.
I propose that if the government is too scared to experiment on Syndergaard that we should at least see if he weighs the same as a duck. I have so many questions.
So we have three pieces of evidence. In the first two, the Giants handled Syndergaard rather well, which jibes with the perception of the Giants being capable against fastballs. In the third one, Syndergaard left the Giants’ bones to dry in the sun, and then he came back and made a vest out of the bones. Which seems extreme, but you don’t know what goes through a professional athlete’s mind until you’ve walked in his shoes.
Is it possible for the Giants to win? Sure. They’ve won a Bumgarner/Syndergaard matchup in New York this year. Is it possible for the Giants to be humiliated? Sure. It happened on national TV just over a month ago. This isn’t Edinson Volquez.
At the very least, the Giants will have their ace going, so they’ll have a fighting chance. Now it’s time to kick back and wait for the next ... 52 HOURS?
oh man this is gonna be the end of me