At the start of the 2014 season, the New York Mets thought they’d be considering a promotion of top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard right about now, with the calendar about to turn to July. But things haven’t turned out that way for Synergaard and the Mets; if the Mets wanted to make room for him in their rotation right now they could, but the truth is, he’s not ready to make his MLB debut, and he doesn’t appear to be that close.
Syndergaard’s numbers are quite modest, and not at all becoming of one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. In 14 starts this season, he has an ERA of 5.35 and a WHIP of 1.49, with opposing hitters batting .293 against him. Those numbers are a bit inflated by the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but it’s also troubling to note that he’s only thrown more than five innings in just one of his last six starts, including a start in which he lasted just two-thirds of an inning. He’s also allowed at least three runs in his last five outings, giving him a June ERA of 9.98.
Of course, it’s not all about numbers with Syndergaard; it’s about development, and his has been slow to come by this season. There’s no doubt that he has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues and be successful, but that hasn’t been enough for him at triple-A. He still isn’t to the point where he’s comfortable throwing his secondary pitches in all counts, and he does struggle at times with his fastball control, both of which can cause problems when you face a lineup multiple times in the same game, or face a team multiple times in the same season. Until Syndergaard starts to improve in those areas, the Mets shouldn’t be considering him for a big-league promotion.
Even if the Mets wanted to promote Syndergaard or had a pressing need in their rotation, it’s important that they don’t rush him to the big leagues. Zack Wheeler had similar issues with his fastball control and an unwillingness to throw his secondary pitches in all counts before his major league promotion last year, and he still continues to work on those issues after more than a year in the big leagues. That’s part of the reason Wheeler continues to show inconsistency from start to start, as he recently followed up the best start of his career with the worst start of his career.
The Mets don’t want to rush Syndergaard to the big leagues when it’s clear that he’s far from a finished product. If the team is patient, he’ll get to the point where he’s ready to make his MLB debut, which should come before the end of the 2014 season.