Syndergaard aims to regain winning touch as Mets face Phillies

The New York Mets won each of Noah Syndergaard’s first five starts this season. They’ve lost in his last three.

The Mets will try to snap that skid and try to win their first series in four tries Saturday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. Syndergaard (3-1, 3.09 ERA) has given the Mets a chance to win each time he’s been on the mound in 2018.

He went six innings and gave up two runs as he worked around six hits and four walks against the Rockies in his last outing. But neither Syndergaard nor his manager think he’s hit his stride this season.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Noah Syndergaard yet,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told MLB.com after his last start.

The flame-throwing righty has gone at least six innings and allowed three runs or less in his latest trio of starts, but the Mets offense has come up short each time. The Mets’ .230 average and .684 OPS ranked 10th and 13th, respectively, in the National League entering the weekend.

Syndergaard is 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA, 0.941 WHIP and .194 batting average against in seven career starts against the Phillies. The 25-year-old had seven strikeouts but exited the game after allowing two earned runs on 92 pitches in four innings against the Phillies on April 4.

Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin will face Syndergaard as he continues to make his case for a long-term spot in the rotation.

Called up in place of injured righty Ben Lively, Eflin (1-1, 0.71 ERA) has been dominant in two starts. He gave up just one run on three hits against the Marlins in his 2018 debut, and Eflin followed it up with 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Giants on Monday.

Eflin has allowed only seven hits in 12 2/3 innings for the Phillies this season, and he struck out nine Giants in his last outing.

“I’ve really tried to become a guy who can put people away and pitch to contact,” Eflin told reporters. “It’s more being aggressive with the first pitch of the game. There have been games in the past where I’ve kind of nibbled the corners or not threw pitches aggressively. That’s changing. I have to do that every pitch, and my stuff is playing up more now that I am more aggressive with every pitch.”

Eflin, 24, pitched for the Phillies in both of the last two seasons. He had a 5.85 ERA in 22 major league starts prior to 2018. Three of those starts came against the Mets, and Eflin is 0-2 with a 4.41 ERA against the Phillies’ divisional foe.

The National League East rivals are trending in opposite directions overall, but the Mets came back and stunned the Phillies for a 3-1 win in the series opener Friday night. Michael Conforto hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning to give the Mets just their second win in 10 games.

“It’s a tough way to lose the first game of a series, but we can’t worry about it too long,” Phillies starter Jake Arrieta said afterward. “We have to come back in about 12 hours and be ready to do it again.”