As the Mets build their roster at the 2019 MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego, the pieces of the puzzle for the 2020 season have started to come together.
While the Mets weigh their options with moves such as last Thursday's Jake Marisnick trade and Wednesday's Michael Wacha agreement, RHP Noah Syndergaard is among the cornerstone pieces GM Brodie Van Wagenen believes to be pivotal for the team's success next year.
Discussing the Mets' rotation and bullpen in Wednesday's 1-on-1 interview with SNY's Steve Gelbs, Van Wagenen pointed to Syndergaard as one of the most important arms on the roster.
"I think he worked hard on his mechanics throughout the season," Van Wagenen said of Syndergaard. "I don't think he had a consistent, repeatable delivery throughout the year. He was aware of it and he was working hard to try to replicate it and understand why he couldn't do the things he wanted to do. And then there was a confidence issue, and I think the rapport with the catcher is something we wanted to work on and improve upon, and I think all of those things are being addressed and we're confident that he'll be back to the ace-level pitcher he's been in the past."
Syndergaard went 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA and 202 strikeouts to 50 walks in 197.2 innings pitched over 32 starts, experiencing ups and downs amid trade rumors and questions about catcher chemistry.
RHP Jacob deGrom, meanwhile, won a second straight NL Cy Young in 2019 with an 11-8 record and 2.43 ERA, striking out 255 while walking 44 in 204.0 innings pitched over 204.0 innings pitched.
With the anticipated addition of Wacha (6-7, 4.76 ERA), not to mention the July 28 trade for RHP Marcus Stroman (10-13, 3.22 ERA) and the return of LHP Steven Matz (11-10, 4.21 ERA), the Mets are counting on Syndergaard alongside deGrom.
"Noah's an incredibly hard worker," Van Wagenen said. "His offseason plan this year, he's been working through his mechanics and working through his strength and conditioning routine. He's lean, he's lost weight -- he looks amazing. And we had a chance to see him this past week at Citi Field -- he came and worked out with us. We know that he's been going back and forth between his home in Texas and here in New York, and he'll be going to train in California as well after the new year. But we're very confident he can be an elite-level pitcher, and I think he has that confidence as well."
Under the guidance of pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and assistant pitching coach Jeremy Accardo, Van Wagenen is confident in the Mets' arms from the rotation to the bullpen.
"I think we're going to see dramatic improvements from all of our pitchers," Van Wagenen said. "We've got a new pitching coach in Jeremy Hefner. Jeremy Accardo is back, who built a relationship with pitchers, along with (bullpen coach) Ricky (Bones) in the second half of the year -- our performance, overall, improved the second half of the year. Add Jeremy to the mix, add the work ethic and the offseason programs these guys are doing, I think we're going to see a very good pitching staff."