Sent from Asgard and placed in his mother's womb to pass for human, Thor will take the mound for the New York Mets as they head back to Citi Field. This isn't the same Thor who has been played in films by Vincent D'Onofrio and Chris Hemsworth. This one is the real deal.
Born Noah Syndergaard at a massive ten pounds to mother Heidi and displaced Iowa farmboy Brad outside of Fort Worth in Mansfield, TX, Syndergaard seemed predestined to growing into the form of a hulking beast of a man. Cut and chiseled from some supernatural slab of marble that allows for a bewitching combination of impermeability and devastatingly overwhelming motion, the 6'6", 240-pound hurler's right arm calls into question any claim that his origins are of an earthly nature.
Originally drafted out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays with a supplemental first round pick in the 2010 Amateur Draft (38th overall) out of Legacy High School in Mansfield, Syndergaard was a quick riser through the minors. His prospect star shone brightly, so brightly that he and Travis d'Arnaud were the key returns to the Mets when Sandy Alderson looked to flip R.A. Dickey following his 2012 Cy Young campaign, a deal Alex Anthopoulos would surely choose to undo if granted the power of time travel. Though Syndergaard had only reached the Midwest League at that point, the potential inherent in his arsenal was the stuff about which prospect hounds trip over each other in their race to extol its virtuousness with lustful fantasy dripping from each word.
Syndergaard kept developing and advancing through the minors, and the potential drew nearer and nearer to actualization. He reached Triple-A Las Vegas at the age of 21--a minor-league hellscape for pitching prospects--before the Mets halted his ascent for the sake of high-minors seasoning, or so the management would like you to believe. After a year and a month in the unfriendly environs of the Pacific Coast League that might have built character in Thor were it not for his status as a God who was not wanting in that trait, the Mets finally promoted their hulking future king.
He did not disappoint.
In 150.0 regular season innings amassed in the majors, The Pride of Mansfield maintained a 3.24 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 2.91 xFIP, and 2.95 SIERA while putting up a 9.96 K/9, 27.5 K%, 1.86 BB/9, 5.1 BB%, and 5.35 K/BB. He totaled 3.1 fWAR and 2.1 rWAR in 24 starts. Those are lofty numbers for a rookie pitcher. Upon seeing his sub-3.00 SIERA at the regular season's close, there were reports of six different hospitalizations of Mets fans due to minor coronary events. These things happen when each ball you toss is done for the glory of Valhalla.
The Asgardian point of origin for his right arm is further supported by his upper-90s fastball and hammer curve worthy of Thor or--perhaps more appropriately--himself.
Per PITCHf/x data at Brooks Baseball, Syndergaard goes to his four-seamer about 37% of the time and fits his sinker in for another 24.5% of his pitches thrown. With both hard offerings registering at 97.8 MPH [full disclosure: FanGraphs' data has his four-seamer at 96.5 MPH and his sinker at 97.0 MPH, as it does not incorporate post-season data into its velocity charts], classifying him as a hard-thrower is an understatement. In his Age-22 season, Syndergaard had the highest average fastball velocity of any pitcher with more than 100 innings pitched.
His curve is his next-most frequently used offering, hammering it in 21.5% of the time, dropping it in at about 80 MPH. He also turns to his change, going off-speed with it on 14.4% of his major-league pitches thrown. His cambio sits in the upper-80s, averaging 88.9 MPH. Scouting reports had both of these secondary pitches as present 50-grade pitches with room to grow to 55-grade. Per PITCHf/x, he also toys with a slider, but he throws it less than 3% of the time.
Judging by his pitch values, his fastball and curveball have both been above-average offerings in 2015, though separate pitch valuation systems differ in the degree to which they've been above-average.
In looking at his heatmaps, separated by handedness, a clear trend emerges:
Clearly, Syndergaard likes to work low and away to opposing hitters. This allows him to limit the damage done by his opponents.
In his limited postseason resume, Syndergaard has stepped up his game. Through 13.0 IP spread out over three games (two starts), Thor has struck out 20 and walked six, allowing four earned runs. His 2.77 ERA compared against his 1.44 FIP, 2.12 xFIP, and 2.27 SIERA suggest that there has been a bit of bad luck borne out in his postseason ERA.
Just as Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey before him, Syndergaard will try to overpower the Royals' bats, bats that do not typically get overpowered. What happens when the Royals face a God is anyone's guess.