Nola, Syndergaard still struggling with run prevention

One of the things I like to do heading into a day of baseball is to glance at the pitching matchups and see what two or three might prove to the best ones. I'm far from alone. It's a tradition that started long ago with looking at the newspaper in the morning to see the matchups. What might be the best bet for a duel? 

On Monday night, the Phillies sending Aaron Nola against the Mets' Noah Syndergaard was one possible answer and it would have been a good one. Instead, it flopped. It was 5-5 through four innings. 

The final lines: 

Nola: 4 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Noah: 5 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 9 K

At least Thor is still striking guys out, but this continues a troubling early trend for this pair of should-be frontline starters. They aren't keeping runs off the board. 

Nola finished third in Cy Young voting last season and appeared to establish himself as a bona fide ace. He was good on opening day, despite five walks, in allowing just a run in six innings, but since then he's coughed up 15 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings. Through four starts, he now has a 7.45 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. He's walking too many batters and five home runs in fewer than 20 innings is troubling. 

Syndergaard has long had issues staying healthy, but usually when he's on the mound he's somewhere from good to dominant. In his second start this season, he gave up two runs in six innings. Otherwise, he's allowed at least four runs in his other three outings. He now sits with a 5.63 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. On Syndergaard, the funny thing is nearly everything aside from the ERA looks good. He's struck out 29 in 24 innings, he's not walking too many batters, he has not been torched by the longball and his FIP is 3.11. Still, the most important job of a pitcher is to keep runs off the board and he's not doing it. 

Given this, it seems more likely that Syndergaard fixes things in the near term before Nola. Still, both pitchers are very talented and it's way early. The best guess is this gets sorted out before the middle of May, assuming neither is hurt. For now, it's a bit jarring to see those ERAs on two pitchers who should be among the better ones in the NL. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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