David Kohl | USA TODAY Sports

Noah Syndergaard has had a second start against the Mets scuttled. Many are criticizing the Phillies right-hander for avoiding his old team. But a former teammate isn’t having it.

Ex-Mets pitcher Jerry Blevins — who was worked as an SNY analyst in retirement — defended Syndergaard on Twitter after the Phillies pushed back his next start. Syndergaard was scheduled to face the Amazins on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies now expect him to pitch Monday against the Reds.

“For those people calling Syndergaard soft for missing the Mets, you’re full of it,” Blevins tweeted. “This is the guy who threw at Chase Utley. This is the guy who threw at Alcides Escobar in ‘15 World Series and set the tone. You can hate Noah. But calling him soft is counterfactual.”

Blevins added: “He’s coming off Tommy John surgery. He’s got limitations because of it. I don’t know those limitations. I would be shocked to my core if he asked to not pitch vs Mets. Not saying it isn’t possible. But highly unlikely. And assuming he’s ducking anyone is silly.”

As we wrote earlier: In a vacuum, this is no big deal. Syndergaard just threw seven innings on four days rest. And he’s approaching 100 innings this year after basically missing the last two seasons. It makes sense for the Phillies to give him an extra day while chasing a wild card bid. And given they are nine games back of the NL East lead in the loss column with the Braves also ahead of them, any win is worth the same. They don’t need to come against the Mets.


But … Syndergaard has now managed to avoid the Mets twice with two different teams in two different leagues on opposite coasts in the span of a few months. And he’s done this amid an abrupt exit, a handful of passive-aggressive digs and a curious session with local reporters. So yes, people are going to take umbrage. And yes, it does seem a tad fishy.

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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.