It’s only May, and we’re already running out of adjectives to describe New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard.

Dominant, nasty, transcendent, filthy, scintillating—they’ve all been used. Once you’ve named a guy after a Norse god/Marvel superhero, where is there to go?

How about this: best pitcher in the ace-rich National League East.

The competition is stiff. There’s Max Scherzer, for one, who took the ball Tuesday for the Washington Nationals in a showdown against Syndergaard and the Mets.

Scherzer, coming off his record-tying 20-strikeout performance May 11 against the Detroit Tigers, pitched well. He scattered three hits and three walks over 6.1 innings and racked up 10 K’s.

Two of those hits, however, were solo home runs by Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto.

That was all the support Syndergaard needed. Through seven sterling innings, the kid they call Thor kept the Nats off the board while yielding five hits with no walks and fanning 10.

The Mets bullpen made it stand up, and New York prevailed 2-0 to improve to 22-16 and slide within a half-game of Washington for the division lead.

Even this early in the season, that’s important. This race could well go down to the wire, so every tussle between the Mets and Nats takes on added significance, be it now or in the heat of summer.

Just as important, however, Syndergaard is staking his claim as an ace among aces. And there’s a dealer’s deck of aces out east.

Scherzer is second only to the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Clayton Kershaw with 76 strikeouts in 58.1 innings. But he also owns a pedestrian 4.01 ERA.

Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals’ other top arm, sports a 2.95 ERA in 55 innings with 65 strikeouts. And Washington southpaw Gio Gonzalez has an even stingier 1.93 ERA in 42 innings with 35 strikeouts.

Elsewhere in the East, the Miami Marlins‘ Jose Fernandez (3.21 ERA, 42.7 innings, 69 strikeouts) and the Philadelphia Phillies‘ Vincent Velasquez (2.42 ERA, 48.1 innings, 59 strikeouts) and Aaron Nola (2.89 ERA, 53 innings, 58 strikeouts) belong in the conversation.

And the Mets themselves boast a loaded rotation that includes Jacob deGrom (2.50 ERA, 36 innings, 23 strikeouts), lefty Steven Matz (2.86 ERA, 34.2 innings, 35 strikeouts) and Matt Harvey, still a top-shelf talent despite his early struggles.

So far, however, Syndergaard has put together arguably the most impressive stat line: a 2.19 ERA in 53.1 innings with 65 strikeouts.

And he exited Tuesday’s start trailing some statistical history, as Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media noted:

Beyond the numbers, he’s passed the eyeball test.

His crackling fastballs, which frequently touch triple digits, have made his starts must-watch events. He’s honed his now-devastating slider, which has averaged 91.3 mph this season compared to 85 mph last season, per FanGraphs, and against which opposing batters are hitting just .137.

And he backs down from no one, including Nationals slugger and reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper.

Nine days after the Chicago Cubs walked Harper six times in a single game, Syndergaard went right after him. The result? Two strikeouts and, ultimately, an 0-for-4 day for Harper.

“I think Noah’s one of those kind of guys,” Mets skipper Terry Collins said, per’s Adam Rubin. “You see what he did last fall when I put him in a position he’s never been in before. He wasn’t fazed by it and pitched brilliantly. I think he rises to the challenge.”

Collins, of course, was referring to the Mets’ magical 2015 run, when they rode their stable of studs to the World Series. Syndergaard, then a fresh-faced rookie, made three playoff starts, including Game 3 of the Fall Classic.

He wasn’t perfect, but he teased a combination of stuff, poise and fearlessness that left the Queens faithful dreaming big dreams.

In March, yours truly predicted that Syndergaard would emerge in 2016 as the Mets’ best pitcher. Now, he’s vaulting past that prediction to become the best pitcher in his division and one of the best in the game.

Oh, and he’s still just 23 years old, which means he’ll probably get better. His prime is on the horizon.

Scherzer, Strasburg, Fernandez, Velasquez, Nola and the rest will do their thing, and it’ll be fun to watch. Pop your popcorn. Our money’s on Syndergaard, however, to hurl himself to the head of the pack.

We’ve run out of adjectives to describe Thor. Thankfully, as he proved again Tuesday, he’s a long way from running out of thunderbolts.


All statistics courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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