By Lenn Robbins
One of the first narratives regarding Mets pitcher Noah Syndegaard was not a positive one. He was spotted by David Wright eating in the clubhouse during an intrasquad scrimmage in March of 2015.
This was little more than a rookie error. Syndegaard should have been watching the action, learning one more piece of information or soaking up via osmosis what being a Major League pitcher is all about.
Wright chewed out Syndegaard. Bobby Parnell tossed Syndegaard’s plate in the trash.
If this is the biggest mistake Syndegaard ever makes as a Met that would be OK. But OK, as the AT&T ad states, is not OK when it comes to Syndegaard.
From that rookie season when he struck out 166 batters in 150 innings, Syndegaard standing at 6-6 and weighing around 240 pounds with that lightning blond flow, began drawing hushed comparisons to other previous Texas flamethrowers such as Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan or pre-injury Kerry Woods.
There was that game last May when Syndegaard four-hit the Reds and drove in the game’s only run with a solo homer. And the one in late-September when he two-hit the Giants, striking out 11 and walking one.
Every time Syndegaard dominated, he raised the bar for himself and for the Mets. Every time he didn’t reach those heights, as was the case at times last season (10-8, 4.28), there were whispers of doubt: Maybe he’ll never be destined for Cooperstown.
Syndegaard did nothing to deflate expectations for this season. There were the shirtless photos of him early in camp, showing off that Greek freak physique. There was today’s first spring training outing when he worked the standard two innings, striking out two, allowed one hit and left with Mets fan feeling good until Edwin Diaz showed off his dreadful 2019 form.
With Jacob deGrom and Syndegaard, the Mets can have the best 1-2 front end of any rotation in baseball. That has been the hope for the last five seasons. But this could be the year that deGrom and Syndegaard combine to lead the Mets to an October parade.
Syndegaard, 27, spent the offseason in Los Angeles sharpening his mental approach to pitching. The hope is that a better plan, combined with his 97.6-mph four-seamer, his 91.1-mph changeup and an unhittable curve when the first two are working, will establish him as one of the best in the game.
“It was a top-notch pitching program the performance people put together for me,’’ Syndergaard told The Post. “I followed it to a T. Previous offseasons I would go into spring training lackadaisical on the mound, figuring, ‘Oh, I will just figure it out there.’
“Now I’ve had 10 mound sessions under my belt already. Our analytics guys came out to LA a few times to really figure things out. I have a much better grasp now on everything.’’
Wouldn’t that be something to witness? Syndegaard standing on the mound at Citi Field, knowing his stuff can blow away any man in the box, knowing exactly what’s the best pitch to throw, and executing it? We’d cater the clubhouse spread.