NEW YORK -- At no point on Opening Day did Noah Syndergaard face more trouble than the sixth inning, when he allowed two singles with one out in a scoreless game. In danger of ceding a lead to the Braves, Syndergaard struck out Matt Kemp on a changeup that tumbled more than two feet from its release point, according to Statcast™. His final pitch to Nick Markakis was a 98-mph sinker.
Only later did Syndergaard reveal that a blood blister popped on his middle finger during that inning, forcing him to complete the sixth in pain. The Mets removed Syndergaard after the inning, forcing him to take a no-decision in their 6-0 win over the Braves. But the club believes he will make his next start.
Throughout the early innings, Syndergaard was dominant, ditching his triple-digit four-seam fastball for a two-seamer with more horizontal movement. That pitch topped out Monday at 99.3 mph. His slider hit 94 mph while all but four of his 86 pitches -- two changeups and three curveballs -- hit 89 or better.
Through four innings, Syndergaard had used that repertoire to amass six strikeouts, squelching the Braves' initial scoring opportunity with a pair of them after a one-out, fourth-inning Freddie Freeman triple.
"That guy is some kind of good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "His offspeed stuff is so good and he ramps it up when he gets in trouble."
It was during the ensuing inning that Rivera noticed the blister on Syndergaard's finger. Trainers took a closer look following the sixth, advising the Mets to remove him from the game. And so they did, cruising to victory behind an offense that broke out in the seventh.
In isolation, the blister was not particularly troubling to the Mets, who pushed back Syndergaard's next scheduled start from Saturday to Sunday to give him more time to recover. Between then and now, the team's training staff will use ointment to dry out the wound, allowing fresh skin to grow over it.
"It's just a little blister," Syndergaard said. "I'm not too concerned about it."
His injury mostly seemed alarming because of the state of New York's other starting pitchers. Steven Matz and Seth Lugo both began this season on the disabled list, with Lugo scheduled for a second opinion Tuesday on his inflamed elbow. Two other members of the Opening Day rotation, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, are coming off surgeries, posting Spring Training ERAs of 5.89 and 5.11, respectively. Now Syndergaard has a blister, which the Mets can only hope does not linger.
If it evaporates, they know, Syndergaard will continue his quest to become baseball's best pitcher forthwith.
He might just do so regardless of his finger.
"That's what the great ones do," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You can watch them -- they coast along, they coast along, and all of a sudden they get under pressure and their stuff gets just a little bit together. And that's what I saw from him today."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.