So far it’s been a swing and a miss with the Noah Syndergaard experiment. The right-hander said all the right things when he signed a one year, $13 million deal with the Dodgers in December but the tone has changed drastically with each appearance in blue.
First, all the talk was centered on the return of his 99mph fastball. With the Dodgers, he felt he should be able to get the stuff back that made him one of the better pitchers in baseball at one point — stuff he’s been searching for since returning from 2020 Tommy John surgery. By the end of spring training, the conversation quickly shifted to “I’m no longer trying to throw 100 anymore” and manager Dave Roberts said Syndergaard could be fine with command and movement as he transitions into the next phase of his career.
On Friday night, the former All-Star said in so many words he’s just not feeling it without his once-dominant stuff.
“Just not a lot of positive emotion right now when I think about pitching, in particular. It’s just hard going out there with the weapons you used to have kind of being taken away from you and throwing what I’m possessing right now is not enough to successfully battle a team like that.”
The artist formerly known as Thor allowed 6 runs in 6 innings on Friday night, all 6 scoring over the first 4 innings. He struck out only 3 batters, continuing his downward trending K%, and was hit hard with exit velocities of 95mph or higher measured against him 8 times.
He says he’s trying to figure it out but with the bad starts piling up, it’s looking more and more like the Dodgers should cut their losses and move on from the Noah Syndergaard era sooner rather than later.
Dave Roberts says not so fast.
“I think right now, we’ve got to continue to run him out there and expect better results,” Roberts said. … “I do see that he’s competing. He cares. But yeah, it’s about results and I think you also have to kind of think about options and what makes the most sense. We’re already thin with the staff and you’ve got to be smart in the sense of, we’ve got a long way to go.”
Roberts added that the team doesn’t necessarily have any better options ready to go internally. One look at the starting rotation at the Double-A level would tell you he’s dead wrong about that.
As the Dodgers usually do, they will give an absurd amount of leash to a player that doesn’t exactly deserve it — cc: 2022 Craig Kimbrel. Noah Syndergaard is a nice enough person, and yes he is trying his best, but there’s only so long before running him out there over and over again could be more detrimental to his future. He’s still just 30 years of age and has enough career in front of him, if things shake out right for him. But this mentally taxing stretch can’t be helping his psyche in any way.
“It just kind of feels like a ‘Chinese handcuff’,” Syndergaard said, “the more I struggle, the harder it is to get out of it and every time I try to crawl out of it, I fall deeper and deeper.”
Syndergaard is slated to start the final game against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium next week but with some well placed days off on the calendar for LA, they could find a way to skip him for a turn and keep on working on his troubles on the side. Not that it helped last time.
Despite back to back losses, the Dodgers still hold a 1.5 game lead over the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.