Noah Syndergaard is off to a monster start for the New York Mets this season.
Syndergaard has a 3-2 record in seven starts, with a 2.53 ERA, and 55 strikeouts to just 9 walks allowed in 46.1 innings.
Syndergaard added a new wrinkle to his hot start on Wednesday night, when he hit two home runs in the Mets’ 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Syndergaard also pitched eight innings, striking out six, while allowing two runs as he picked up the win.
In just his second season in the majors, the 23-year-old Syndergaard has taken the league by storm, proving to be not only one of the more talented young pitchers, but one of the more exciting, too. For the Mets, it’s a reminder that a big trade they made in 2012 was worthwhile.
In December 2012, the Mets and Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a seven-player trade centered on R.A. Dickey. Dickey was 38 at the time, coming off a Cy Young season for the Mets after boasting a 2.73 ERA, with a 1.053 WHIP, and 20-6 record. The Mets sent Dickey to Toronto along with catcher Josh Thole and minor league catcher Mike Nickeas, while getting back catcher John Buck, Wuilmer Becerra, and two top prospects: catcher Travis d’Arnaud and Syndergaard.
At the time, most felt the Mets did well for themselves, despite giving up a Cy Young pitcher. d’Arnaud and Syndergaard were both in the top 25 of MLB.com’s top 100 prospects in 2014. However, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo noted when the Mets called Syndergaard up, no prospect is a sure thing:
When the Mets landed Syndergaard last winter in the seven-player deal that made R.A. Dickey a Blue Jay, they knew they were acquiring someone with top-of-the-rotation potential. They also knew that without any experience at the upper levels of the Minors, Syndergaard was as much at risk of flaming out as any other young phenom.
While in 2014 ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Mets as having the fourth-best farm system, noting Syndergaard as one of their top prospects, there was still some concern about Syndergaard, as detailed by SB Nation’s Amazin’ Avenue. In Triple-A in Las Vegas, he was lit up, posting a 5.34 ERA in the notoriously hitter-friendly Vegas field. Similarly, while Syndergaard was still boasting an incredible fastball, he hadn’t developed much pitch variety yet (though his curveball was improving).
Two years later, that’s not a worry for Syndergaard. He throws the hardest fastball in the league, and in just his second season, has added a borderline unhittable slider that he didn’t have his rookie year. It’s already the fastest slider in the majors.
With each day, the deal is more of a steal for the Mets. Since joining the Blue Jays, Dickey hasn’t posted an ERA lower than 3.50 or a WAR above 3.0. Meanwhile, Thole is a backup on the Blue Jays and Nickeas hasn’t played in the majors since 2013.
For the Mets, not only did they get Syndergaard, but d’Arnaud has been a valuable piece for them. Last year, he batted 2.68 while hitting 12 home runs.
Four years since that trade, Syndergaard is the face of perhaps the best pitching rotation in MLB — something that would have been hard to imagine when the Mets decided to let go of Dickey, perhaps their best and most notable pitcher at the time.
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