The spring training version of the Noah Syndergaard experiment came to a rocky end against the Angels on Monday giving up 5 earned runs on 9 hits and 2 home runs. His last two starts have been less than stellar, but overall it was mostly a success in terms of him staying healthy and building up innings for the regular season.
One thing that didn’t go well for Syndergaard was his quest to regain velocity. The right-hander used to tough 99 miles-per-hour with his fastball with ease in his heyday with the Mets. As he signed with the Dodgers this past offseason, one of his goals was to get somewhere near that once again but after averaging 92-93 mph for most of the spring, it seems that Thor has ditched that goal.
“If I don’t throw 100 [mph] again, that’s fine. I’m not going out there trying to throw 100. I’m just trying to get outs. It’s not all that important to me. If I can just trust my delivery, which I did for the most part, I think I’ll be in a pretty good position.”
The Dodgers need an out-getter in Syndergaard more than an ace. If the right-hander stays in the 93-94 mph range all season and is able to pitch 175-185 innings over 30 starts, then his $13 million deal can be viewed as an absolute success. If the hunt for velocity ended up landing him on the injured list for some reason, that could be devastating for a team that has a little less depth than in years past.
For what it’s worth, Dave Roberts thinks there’s still more in the tank for Syndergaard as the season motors along. But that’s less important to him.
“I think the velocity is going to continue to tick up, which it has from last year to this spring. But I do think that right now, mixing, sequencing, having command, which he does have, is the best course of action. I’m not sitting here trying to chase velocity.”
Analyst Lance Brozdowski took note of Syndergaard’s stuff on Monday night in Anaheim, seeing a few peripheral things that stood out.
So, if you understood all that, you’re in a good spot. Essentially it translates to the Dodgers did what the Dodgers do. The pitching development team identified some small tweaks that can go a long way in improving Syndergaard’s secondary offerings. His slider acting more like a cutter could help him neutralize left-handed hitters (LHBs hit nearly 20 points better than RHBs off his a season ago). And a tighter curve will help keep all hitters a little more honest.
Thor might not be Thor in 2023, but he can still be just fine being a new version of Noah Syndergaard for these Dodgers. Velo or not.
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