Noah Syndergaard had what may have been his best pitching performance of the season last night.
He struck out 10 Nationals, and he gave up no runs in seven innings of work in the Mets’ 2-0 victory over the NL East-leading Nationals at Citi Field. He was dialed in from the start when he threw nine of his 12 pitches as strikes in the first inning.
He was so good that he could have pitched a complete game. He was at 102 pitches heading to the eighth inning, but Mets manager Terry Collins decided it was enough for the night. That’s disappointing.
It wasn’t like Syndergaard labored to get out of the seventh inning. It wasn’t like the Mets starter was tired. He could have gone at least one more inning.
If Syndergaard was taken out after he threw 112 pitches in the seventh inning, the move would have been understandable. That was not the case in this outing against the Nationals. He could have gone for a complete game. He should have gone for it.
This is another example of a baseball team overprotecting their starters in fear of injury.
The Mets have gone through the extreme of having their starters on an innings limit and pitch count. They are cautious with Syndergaard after seeing Matt Harvey struggle to start this season as a result of pitching the most innings of his career last year and Jacob deGrom still finding his way on the mound.
Make no mistake. This was not Collins’ decision to take Syndergaard out. He is following orders from his bosses to monitor his starters when it comes to how many pitches they can pitch in a game.
The Mets want to protect their investment when it comes to their starters, especially in light of Stephen Matz having arm problems.
But at some point, this is overkill. Pitchers are going to get hurt no matter how many innings they pitch. Even if they are on a pitch count limit, they still will get hurt. It’s the reality of the game.
There’s no recipe for pitchers being healthy, so It’s pointless to be cautious with pitchers.
The only time a starter should be out of the game if he is tired to continue. That wasn’t the case with Syndergaard last night. He was throwing 90 mph in the seventh inning. He could have at least gone one more inning at best.
The Mets were not second-guessed since Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia pitched two hitless innings to finish the game. But if either or both blew the lead, there’s no question folks would wonder why Syndergaard was taken out.
No harm no foul here.
It doesn’t have to be case.
Starters need to be trained to pitch complete games. It would only make them tougher and better. It would help them be stronger when they face adversity during the game. It would give them confidence to get through a jam as the game goes on late in the games.
By taking starters out because of a pitch count or innings limit, teams are making the starters look like wimps out there.
It wasn’t like that back in my day. I remember starters going eight innings and throwing 120 pitches per game. They would even pitch complete games. It would be a pride to go for complete games every start.
That’s not how baseball works anymore. Owners and General Managers are more concerned about the long-term future of the pitchers to have them go further. They are trying to protect their investment anyway they can. If the opportunity is there to take a starter out with the game out of reach, the team will do that.
The Mets are no different than any other 29 teams in baseball.
Baseball fans have accepted this. They have gotten into the times.
Still, it’s not what it should be.
There’s something to be said about pitching a complete game, especially with the caliber of Syndergaard’s efforts.
The great ones strive to go nine innings. That’s what makes the games fun and appealing.
Today’s pitchers are not what they used to be anymore.
It’s actually more of a detriment to the game than general managers realize.