All Noah Syndergaard had to do Monday night was look across the field into the visitors’ dugout at Citi Field to realize how fast this all goes.
There sat Matt Harvey in a Reds uniform watching a short video the Mets presented about the Dark Knight before Syndergaard and the Mets beat the Reds 6-4.
It seems like only yesterday Syndergaard, who is now 7-2, was arriving from the minor leagues, but the big right-hander is already approaching a crossroads in his career.
Syndergaard, soon to be 26, has been magnificent most of the time he has pitched, but that is the problem.
“For Noah to be great, he just has to stay on the mound and make his starts,” Mickey Callaway told The Post.
No one knows that better than Syndergaard. Syndergaard breezed through six shutout innings Monday before running into trouble in the seventh. He left with the bases loaded, one out and one run in, and by the time the inning finished, Syndergaard was charged with four runs.
As for making his starts, Syndergaard knows the deal.
“It’s huge, it’s crucial, my health,” Syndergaard said. “I need to go out there and be consistent. That’s my second start in a row. I just want to keep rolling them out there. That’s the most important part.”
No doubt. When he was taken out of the game, Syndergaard marched off the field into the dugout and fired his glove into the railing before going into the clubhouse.
Asked about the exit velocity of the glove missile, Syndergaard said, with a smile: “Probably not very high. It wasn’t good traction.”
“I want him to be mad when I take him out,” Callaway said. “I want them all to be mad.’’
“Never be satisfied” is the way Syndergaard put it.
Syndergaard is 31-20 as a Met. He has made 76 starts. This year, he has made just 15 starts. Last year, he made seven. In 2015, he made his first start May 12 and finished the regular season with 24 starts. The next year, he made 30.
Since then, it has been a roller coaster of injuries for Syndergaard, and now the challenge for Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland is to make sure Syndergaard goes out there every five days.
During his Mets career, Harvey finished with a 34-37 record and 3.66 ERA. He made 104 starts for the Mets as injuries derailed him.
The Mets are betting on Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom anchoring the team for years to come, but to do that, Syndergaard must make as many starts as deGrom, who leads the Mets with 22 this season.
Syndergaard’s ERA jumped from 2.98 to 3.17. He came into the night with a 2.91 lifetime ERA, and among pitchers with at least 70 starts, only Clayton Kershaw (2.37), deGrom (2.78) and Chris Sale (2.89) were better. Good company.
“I get why the Mets are building around their rotation and did not trade those guys,” one scout at the game told me. “It makes sense. They have a ready-built rotation. A lot of teams don’t have that.”
The Mets must add talent around deGrom, Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, who made 21 starts before being put on the DL.
Syndergaard dominates the NL Central. The Mets are 5-0 in his starts against the Reds. He has held his opponent to two or fewer runs in 14 of his 19 starts against the division.
On May 29, Syndergaard was placed on the DL with a strained ligament in his right index finger. When he was reinstated July 13, he came down with hand, foot and mouth disease, something that later felled the Yankees’ J.A. Happ.
Harvey’s New York reign came to an end because of a series of injuries and surgeries.
Besides having the ability to strike out hitters, Syndergaard induces soft contact. He induces an NL-leading 26.4 percent soft contact rate, second behind only the Red Sox’s Sale.
Now the challenge is not to represent Thor on the mound or be some comic-book character. Look how that worked out for the Dark Knight.
The challenge is to take the ball every five days.
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