A starter his entire career, Noah Syndergaard has struggled this season when he's come out of the bullpen. It's taken two months and seven appearances, but it seems like he's starting to get a feel for pitching in relief.
The Blue Jays' No. 4 prospect scattered three hits over four scoreless innings to earn his first Minor League save Wednesday as Class A Lansing blanked Fort Wayne, 7-0.
The Lugnuts have alternated using Syndergaard (3-2) in the rotation and out of the 'pen. One day, he starts and pitches until he reaches his limit -- which has been four innings -- and turn things over to Anthony DeSclafani.
Five days later, DeSclafani takes the hill and the 2010 first-round pick relieves him midway through the contest.
While the pitching tandem -- one of two employed by the Lugnuts -- has kept both players on a schedule of sorts, the results have uncovered some discrepancies.
In seven games as a starter, Syndergaard has a 0.79 ERA over 22 2/3 innings. He's allowed 15 hits and four walks while striking out 28 and holding opponents to a .174 average.
Entering Wednesday's contest, the 19-year-old right-hander had a 9.00 ERA as a reliever. Over 17 innings, he's given up 26 hits and nine walks, with Midwest League foes batting .356 against him.
Even after his latest appearance, MLB.com's No. 83 overall prospect has a 7.29 ERA in games he has not started.
Against the TinCaps, Syndergaard worked in and out of trouble several times, escaping each time. He yielded a one-out single to Casey McElroy in the sixth and stranded Duanel Jones and Matthew Colantonio on base in the seventh.
In the eighth, Tyler Stubblefield drew a leadoff walk and McElroy singled to left field. But Syndergaard got Yeison Asencio to ground into a double play and retired Travis Whitmore on a bouncer to second base.
The Texas native finished strongly, striking out the side in the ninth to complete Lansing's Minor League-leading 10th shutout.
Selected with the 38th overall pick in the 2010 Draft out of Legacy High School, Syndergaard is in his third year of pro ball. He was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in five starts in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2010, then went 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA between Rookie-level Bluefield, short-season Vancouver and Lansing last year.