Noah Syndergaard 'super jacked' to pitch Mets' opener

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard tried to put his second straight Opening Day start in perspective but let his emotion show.

"I'm super jacked for it," he said Thursday. "It's just a great feeling, second year, starting Opening Day and coming out of the gates hot."

Mets manager Mickey Callaway said Tuesday that Syndergaard would start against St. Louis on March 29. The 25-year-old right-hander has a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings over four spring training appearances, striking out 18 and holding hitters to a .152 average.

"It kind of benefits me to just go out there and pretend it's another game," Syndergaard said. "I feel like we kind of put it on this pedestal."

Syndergaard pitched six shutout innings but did not get a decision in last year's opener against Atlanta. He will be the first Mets pitcher to start consecutive openers since Johan Santana pitched in three straight in 2008-10.

"The hype gets a little overwhelming, the same thing with playoff games, wild-card games. It's just another game of baseball," Syndergaard said. "You have to put that to the side and just go out there and have fun with it."

Syndergaard's 2017 season was cut short by a partial tear in his right lat sustained in a 23-5 loss to Washington last April 30.

He returned to the mound for the Mets' Gulf Coast League team and made two appearances for the Mets totaling three innings during the final 10 days of the season. That left him at 1-2 in seven appearances.

"The way Noah's throwing the ball, coming out throwing a 100 (mph) pretty much every game and striking everybody out, it's kind of hard not to give the big guy the nod," rotation mate Matt Harvey said.

Syndergaard said teammate Jacob deGrom had earned the nod, but deGrom has been slowed by back stiffness and the birth of his daughter. He is to make just his second spring start Friday.

"Jake had a tremendous year last year," Syndergaard said. "He was the backbone of our pitching staff. Kudos to him for 200-plus innings and 240 something strikeouts. That's incredible. He definitely deserved it. He's healthy now, and I'm excited to see that. It'll be a great 1-2 punch in baseball."

Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz said a Syndergaard-deGrom combo could be lethal.

"They have such a domination presence and potential if they're healthy. It's not fair to expect they could do that every single time," the former Atlanta pitcher said. "But you're talking about the greatest freak that we've ever seen in Syndergaard, and certainly deGrom has become the guy that everybody will see over time become the consistent pitcher with stuff."

Game notes

OF Michael Conforto (left shoulder surgery) has been playing the field and swinging the bat freely recently, and said he had no limitations on his activities. "I'm over six months now from it. Supposedly everything's supposed to be healed after six months. I have that to tell myself that I can do everything 100 percent and not worry about it," Conforto said. ... Closer Jeurys Familia (arm soreness) worked a scoreless sixth inning against Miami in his first appearance in a week.