Syndergaard and Vargas pitch in for Cyclones
Rehabbing Mets starters compete in Class-A Verrazano Series
Noah Syndergaard got his second taste of pitching in Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon and Jason Vargas shined in his Staten Island debut Monday night as the Cyclones enjoyed a pair of sterling starts from Mets pitchers working their way back to the Major Leagues.
Rehabbing flame-thrower Syndergaard, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since May 25 due to a strained ligament in his right index finger, muscled his way through five strong innings at MCU Park as Brooklyn snapped a season-high five-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Staten Island Yankees.
The 25-year-old right-hander yielded a run on two hits with a walk and seven strikeouts, dazzling the crowd of 7,404 at the Baby Bums’ sparkling facility by the sea.
Syndergaard, who also made a rehab start in Coney Island last September while coming back from a torn muscle in his pitching arm, felt fine afterward and is looking forward to getting back to the parent club, which is suffering through a nightmarish season after beginning the campaign with high expectations.
“Overall, the finger was holding up nice, feels good and I can’t wait to get back out there in a big-league setting,” the hulking hurler noted after firing 46 of his 71 pitches for strikes against the Class A short-season Yankees.
Syndergaard admitted to having some “first-time jitters” following an opening frame that saw him walk a batter, ignore a base-runner stealing second and surrender an RBI single before uncorking a wild pitch.
After his shaky first inning, however, “Thor” gave up just one hit the rest of the way while finding his groove as a pair of run-scoring hits by Jose Miguel Medina proved to be enough to help Brooklyn win its first game since a 7-4 triumph at Staten Island on July 2.
“The mound wasn’t the easiest to pitch from, but I made due with it overall,” said Syndergaard, who wouldn’t commit to how soon he will be ready to rejoin the Mets’ starting rotation.
“I don’t know the answer to that right now,” he said. “I’m going to go to the ballpark [Monday] and re-evaluate where we are.”
While Syndergaard got to visit his teammates at Citi Field in Flushing for Monday’s doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies, his rotation mate, Jason Vargas, took his turn in the Brooklyn rotation that night across the Verrazano.
The veteran left-hander, who was signed to a two-year, $16 million pact this past offseason, has struggled mightily for the Mets, going a putrid 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA in nine starts before being shelved with a calf injury on June 24.
Against the Baby Bombers, Vargas flashed the form that made him an American League All-Star with Kansas City in 2017, limiting Staten Island to one hit while striking out nine over six scoreless frames.
Vargas left the game with a tenuous 1-0 lead before Mets prospect Joshua Walker surrendered a pair of runs over the final two frames to leave Brooklyn with a 2-1 defeat.
Unlike Syndergaard, who intimidates batters with a 98 mph-plus fastball, Vargas relies on using both sides of the plate and keeping hitters off stride to get outs.
“He knows how to pitch,” Cyclones’ second-year manager Edgardo Alfonzo said of the crafty southpaw following the game.
“You don’t have to throw hard to get guys out. He was good, pitched pretty good, it was good to see that from him.”
After beginning the season with eight wins in their first 11 games, the Cyclones have fallen on hard times of late, dropping back to .500 at 12-12 overall with Monday’s defeat.
With Tuesday serving as a league-wide day off in the New York-Penn League, Alfonzo and his staff were doubtlessly setting up their rotation for the opener of a three-game series in Aberdeen, which kicks off Wednesday.
Of course, the Cyclones won’t have a pair of former Major League All-Stars on the staff going forward.
This, That and the Other Thing: Medina, who went 2-for-4 with a double in Monday’s loss, is leading Brooklyn regulars with a .313 batting average to go with a homer, 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored through 20 games in his second season with the Baby Bums. The 21-year-old outfielder figures to get called up to full-season Class A Columbia if he continues to hit at a torrid pace here in Brooklyn … Now that Vargas and Syndergaard are done taking their turn in the Cyclones’ rotation, Brooklyn can get Briam Campusano back out on the hill Wednesday in Aberdeen. The 22-year-old right-hander has been solid in his first four starts for Brooklyn this summer, going 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA while striking out 17 over 18 innings. He tossed six hitless innings against visiting Staten Island back on June 16 to help Brooklyn post its first win of the year.
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