Without his desired personal catcher, Noah Syndergaard absorbed another personal pounding.
After denying Syndergaard’s request earlier this week for someone other than Wilson Ramos to catch his starts, the Mets suffered a costly 9-2 loss Friday night to the NL-leading Dodgers at Citi Field.
Syndergaard was tagged for all four of the runs he allowed over five innings in a span of four batters in the fourth, culminated by a three-run homer to dead center by rookie Gavin Lux. Clayton Kershaw limited the Mets to two runs on four hits over 6 ¹/₃ innings to improve to 14-5 this season for the Dodgers (96-53).
Jeurys Familia, Luis Avilan and Walker Lockett combined to cough up five more runs in the seventh and eighth innings as the Mets (76-71) failed to build upon their impressive four-game sweep this week of the Diamondbacks. They slipped back to three games behind the Cubs for the second wild-card position in the National League.
Pete Alonso was out of the starting lineup because manager Mickey Callaway believed he was “fatigued” and needed a day off, but the rookie slugger walked to load the bases as a pinch-hitter against Kershaw in the seventh. Amed Rosario drove in the Mets’ second run with a single later in the inning against reliever Joe Kelly.
Ramos was back behind the plate after The Post reported earlier this week that Syndergaard had gone to team brass to ask them to commit to using backup Tomas Nido — or even third-stringer Rene Rivera — as his personal catcher.
Callaway said the decision to start Ramos was a combination of needing his bat in the lineup against Kershaw, plus his insistence “it shouldn’t matter” who catches a pitcher of Syndergaard’s caliber.
“There’s a delicate balance. You have to understand Noah’s point of view, obviously. And we have to understand that Ramos is a great offensive player, one of our best. Hitting him in the four-spot will give us a chance to score runs,” Callaway said before the game. “In the end, when I weigh all of those things, my faith in Noah Syndergaard and who he is and what he can do, probably pushes me towards Ramos.”
Callaway also referred to Syndergaard as “one of the best five pitchers pretty much on the planet when he’s been healthy,” but that hasn’t really been the case during an uneven 2019 campaign. The statistical splits based on his catcher pairings continue to be staggering.
Syndergaard now sports a pedestrian 4.15 ERA overall, broken down to 5.20 in 16 games while pitching to Ramos, as compared to a 2.45 ERA in 10 games started by Nido. The righty also tossed seven shutout frames in his lone start with Rivera behind the plate on Sept. 2 against the Nationals.
Syndergaard worked his way through the first three innings without a run scoring, allowing two singles and striking out four. J.D. Davis’ solo blast to left with one out in the first had provided him an early lead.
Cody Bellinger worked a 10-pitch walk with one out in the fifth, however, before Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock rapped consecutive singles to even the score.
Syndergaard (10-8) then hung a full-count curveball to Lux, who crushed it off the black border encasing the home-run apple beyond the wall in center for a 4-1 game. Syndergaard posted another scoreless frame before Rajai Davis pinch-hit for him in the fifth.
Following J.D. Davis’ homer, the Mets managed just two more hits — including an infield single by Ramos — through the sixth against Kershaw, who improved to 10-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 15 career regular-season starts against them.