Noah Syndergaard arrived at Citi Field on Saturday and was summoned by Mets manager Terry Collins.
"He just called me into his office and asked how I was feeling after my relief appearance," the rookie pitcher explained Saturday. "My body and my arm have never felt better. So that’s what I told him, and I’m ready to go."
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A 23-year-old right-hander who made his big-league debut in mid-May, Syndergaard will start for New York in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta on Sunday night.
Syndergaard (9-7) allowed three runs, five hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings in Game 2 of the Division Series at Los Angeles last weekend, losing on a night that turned when Chase Utley broke Ruben Tejada’s leg with a takeout slide at second.
Syndergaard then threw 17 pitches in the seventh inning Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final game of the NL Division Series, the first relief appearance of his big-league career. He warmed up four times before coming in, and Mets manager Terry Collins said Syndergaard threw 80 total pitches.
"I try not to pay too much attention to the role that I was playing then," Syndergaard said. "I just went out there and pretended like I was starting the game all over again."
NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, who won twice in the Division Series, is set to start Game 3. Left-hander Steven Matz, a 24-year-old rookie who made his debut in late June, is the Mets’ Game 4 starter and will be available out of the bullpen this weekend. If he does not make a relief appearance, Matz would be starting on seven days’ rest.
"If we get him up and he can’t get ready, we’ll find somebody else," Collins said. "We want this kid to be ready for Game 4, and we aren’t going to run him into a situation where he’s not prepared to pitch."
Arrieta (22-6) led the major leagues in wins, and his 1.77 ERA was second-best in the major leagues behind the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke. Arrieta beat Pittsburgh with a five-hit shutout in the Wild Card Game, then won Game 3 against St. Louis despite allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
"The physical toll really hasn’t bothered me at all, but I think that the mental side of it and all the energy you burn leading up to the game does have a little bit of effect," he said. "Throughout the course of the day, you start to contemplate your routine and think about the game in different scenarios, and you start to — that heart rate starts to rise a little bit."
For him, a key is to relax before getting to the ballpark.
"Once your routine starts," he said, "it’s kind of hard to keep the energy level low."