Syndergaard-deGrom combo gives Mets a winning hand


The two-headed pitching beast of Ace 1 and Ace 2 in Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom gave the Mets and Mickey Callaway exactly what they needed right out of the starting gate.

Two wins to start the season and to keep pace with the Nationals’ two stud starters, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. That is the race within the NL East race for the Mets this season.

Syndergaard was the winner in the opener and deGrom followed that up with a 6-2 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday at Citi Field to give the Mets their 2-0 start, just as Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland drew it up.

The fact the two aces are so competitive makes this even better. This is a friendly rivalry. Syndergaard and deGrom push each other. Syndergaard got the Opening Day nod, something deGrom wanted.

Competition, though, is a good thing. Especially between aces.

Jay Bruce put the pair in perspective and their importance to the team when he told The Post: “All the most successful teams have that 1-2 punch. Those are two guys you can go hand the ball to and say, ‘Go win us a game.’ That’s a rarity. It’s two aces.

“We’re fortunate to have them,’’ Bruce added. “Those are two guys who work hard and take care of their bodies. They know what’s at stake, they know what they are capable of and they don’t settle.’’

In this world that settles all too often for mediocrity, Syndergaard and deGrom expect excellence from themselves with every pitch.

Of course, nothing is perfect in Mets world. Reliever Anthony Swarzak, the key bullpen piece signed in the offseason, had to come out in the eighth inning with a left oblique injury.

If the Mets are to keep pace with the Nats in the NL East, they need wins from “SynderGrom.’’

Sure, Syndergaard thought he could have been better in Thursday’s opener, but he got the job done. As for deGrom, Saturday was a day game. DeGrom rules the day.

With the victory he moved to 18-8 with a 1.98 ERA in 39 career daytime starts, the best ERA among major leaguers with at least 200 daytime innings pitched since 1913.

DeGrom battled through 5 ²/₃ innings, allowing four hits and one run while walking one and striking out seven. He had some difficulty putting hitters away, noting the baseball was slick on this dry, cold day.

“The ball was not easy to hold onto, you’re over-gripping, the slider got flat,’’ he said, adding his changeup was a big pitch for him.

There is something else to note, and look for this trend to continue: DeGrom elevated his fastball Saturday. In this drop-down, launch-angle age, the elevated fastball is becoming more of a weapon for pitchers.

The Mets have set a winning tone to start the season. Two wins, solid starts, contributions from up and down the lineup (15 runs and 23 hits over 16 innings) and a solid bullpen.

Most importantly, Syndergaard and deGrom have started 2-0 and are healthy.

“That’s very nice,’’ deGrom said of the start. “It was a big win [Opening Day] and I wanted to come out here and win again today, start the season out 2-0 and hand the ball over to [Steven] Matz and let’s see what he can do [Sunday].’’

The salt-and-pepper, spread-it-around offense is grinding along, as both Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes hit solo home runs to support the pitching. The defense has been strong and Callaway has been able to use much of his roster, with Juan Lagares starting in center field Saturday for Brandon Nimmo. The Mets are aggressively running the bases, too.

“Nothing better than getting off to a good start,” d’Arnaud said. “The clubhouse feel in here is amazing and we’re all having a lot of fun.’’

“When you are a starting pitcher and you can get that first win under your belt, that’s a big thing,’’ Callaway added. “And to help the team start off 2-0 is even better.’’

A pair of aces is a winning hand.



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