Noah Syndergaard doesn’t give up a lot of home runs. New York’s right-hander started play on Wednesday leading, “.... all of baseball since the start of 2016 with a 0.50 HR/9 rate (min. 300.0 innings over the last three seasons),” as the Mets mentioned in their pregame notes.
Syndergaard gave up nine total in 2018, just four in 84 2⁄3 IP in the second half, but he’s given up two in 12 IP in his first two starts of 2019, both of them by Nationals’ outfielder Victor Robles, who has five total in 40 games early in his big league career.
Robles hit an 0-1 sinker out to left off Syndergaard in Nationals Park last week, and got the right-hander again on Wednesday afternoon, sending a first-pitch curve out to left field in Citi Field to put Washington up 2-0 in what ended up a 4-0 win.
This is why Victor Robles is the No. 4 prospect in @MLB.#FlyingV // #OnePursuit pic.twitter.com/ZG0xCxK8we— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 30, 2019
Robles had the only hit off Syndergaard in the righty’s six innings of work on the mound in the series opener in Flushing, Queens, NY, (with the other run scoring on a sac bunt, which brought in a runner he’d walked, who’d moved up on a second consecutive walk, taken third on a wild pitch, and then scored).
.@MLBPipeline: There are 3 prospects better than Victor Robles— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 4, 2019
Victor Robles: pic.twitter.com/45zFt8iiPU
Syndergaard said after the game that his slider wasn’t where he wanted, but he was happy with his curve, even the one breaking ball Robles hit out.
“Slider is really not quite where I want it yet,” he told reporters, “... but it’s encouraging to know when my slider is not working, I can go to my curveball. Curveball was really good today, I even thought the one that Robles hit out was a pretty good pitch, just have to tip my hat to him.”
Robles said he was taking the same approach against Syndergaard he does with any of the pitchers he faces, and things have just come out in his favor early in the head-to-head ABs against the Mets’ starter.
“I’ve been taking the same approach with him as I have with anybody else,” Robles said.
“It’s just unfortunate for him and good for me, that the two home runs are against him, but I stay with my same approach.”
Both home runs have come early in the count versus Syndergaard. Is he being aggressive in the at bats against the hard-throwing righty? And both have come in at bats when he led off an inning. Coincidence? Yes.
“Every time when I go up to the plate, when I’m leading off an inning, I always try to just focus on getting a good pitch to hit, and if I get it early in the count, I try to make good contact, that’s all I’m trying to do,” Robles said.