The 21-year-old Syndergaard struck out leadoff hitter Jason Heyward on a 98 mph fastball, then Evan Gattis on three fastballs to start the second. The right-hander allowed just one hit over two scoreless innings.
“That’s a lot of weight coming off my shoulders right there,” Syndergaard said of striking out Heyward. “I feel like I’m pitching to my strengths, and one of them is being able to locate my fastball really well.”
In contrast, Garcia, 37, used an assortment of mostly slow stuff to retire nine consecutive Mets, three on strikeouts, after retiring all six Detroit batters he faced while fanning two in the spring opener.
Syndergaard, acquired from Toronto as part of the trade for R.A. Dickey last year, is projected to start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas, but he has already shown his potential.
“He’s got all the traits of the good ones,” said Mets manager Terry Collins, who has been as impressed with Syndergaard’s composure as with his stuff. “He’s going to be a really, really good pitcher.”
Ryan Doumit got the hit off Syndergaard, lining a fastball to the opposite field with one out in the second inning to cap an eight-pitch at-bat, but the veteran switch-hitter was still impressed.
“You see a lot of guys that throw 96 and 97 mph during the season, that they’re not throwing 96 or 97 right now,” Doumit said. “I didn’t know anything about the kid coming into today, but I sure won’t forget his name now.”
“He was throwing gasoline,” Garcia said. “Pretty darn good.”