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Syndergaard, d'Arnaud team up in gem

Right-hander, catcher form battery for first time with B-Mets
August 4, 2013

Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud both joined the Mets system last offseason in the blockbuster trade that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays, but the pitcher-catcher pair had never joined forces as a battery -- given that the former hadn't pitched above Class A ball while the latter was coming off a season in Triple-A.

It took d'Arnaud's recent rehab trip to Double-A Binghamton for the two to finally meet on the diamond Sunday afternoon.

Syndergaard -- the Mets' No. 2 prospect -- scattered two hits and a walk and struck out three over five innings with d'Arnaud -- the organization's No. 3 prospect -- behind the plate to lead the B-Mets to a 6-0 win over Harrisburg at Metro Bank Park.

The gem represented the 20-year-old right-hander's first scoreless outing in the Eastern League. He improved to 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in eight Double-A starts spanning 41 innings.

"What can I say about an outing like that?" said d'Arnaud, who is coming back from a broken foot suffered in April. "He had an absolutely electric fastball, his curveball was pretty devastating and his changeup -- I didn't even know he had a changeup like that. It just made his fastball look so much quicker and harder. The whole thing was effective."

The changeup, in particular, could be a scary development for Eastern League hitters and their counterparts at the upper levels. The 6-foot-6 hurler threw the pitch just once in his outing last Sunday, and it resulted in a solo homer by Yankees prospect Slade Heathcott in the first inning.

"If it was a better pitch, it would've worked," Syndergaard told "It was just a changeup left up in the zone. It wasn't the best pitch to throw in that situation. Need to work on the changeups. You can't survive in the big leagues with just a fastball."

Syndergaard didn't touch the pitch again in that outing and still finished with six one-hit innings. He used it more Sunday, and the result was a full slate of zeros.

"I think he threw it eight or 10 times today," said d'Arnaud, "and used it pretty effectively each time. If he's having any trouble with it, I couldn't tell. It works really well with the fastball and the curveball."

From behind the plate, d'Arnaud certainly had the best view in the house to see Syndergaard's full arsenal, but his responsibilities didn't end with catching whatever the right-hander threw his way.

"I think the pitcher-catcher relationship is actually one of the most important and most undervalued part of the game," he said. "If those two guys get along, you can work at a better pace and really get in that groove.

"That's where the trust comes in. The pitcher has to trust whatever the catcher puts down, and the catcher has to trust that the pitcher has a plan when he shakes it off. If that happens, everything works so much more smoothly."

With that all-important relationship somewhat established after Sunday's outing, this could just be the beginning of a battery that could find itself doing the same thing at Citi Field someday.

"Obviously being the first time, you just want to get off to a good start," d'Arnaud said. "He really threw tremendous out there, and you can tell he's a workhorse. Those guys are always fun to work with."

As for what comes next for the 24-year-old catcher, he remained tight-lipped after Sunday's game. After going 1-for-5 at the plate Sunday, he is 4-for-18 in a four-game rehab stint with the B-Mets. He slugged his first homer since his return Saturday.

Mets manager Terry Collins told that d'Arnaud could make his Major League debut this week when John Buck misses time to be with his expectant wife. For now though, the backstop's attention remains with Binghamton.

"I don't really know what the deal is or what their plans are," he said. "I'm here playing ball and having fun with these guys, and that's all I'm focused on."

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to