The Dodgers’ acquisition of RHP Noah Syndergaard made a lot of sense for many reasons. First, the Dodgers needed another arm in the rotation with the loss of Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney. Second, Syndergaard saw what the Dodgers did with Anderson and Heaney and wanted a similar revitalization of his career. And third, it was pretty great value on someone the Dodgers knew they could fix.
Syndergaard came in with high expectations, and thus far, he’s looked really good. Through two spring training starts, Syndergaard has thrown five scoreless innings, retired 15 of the 16 batters he’s faced, and struck out four. You really can’t ask for much more than that.
While many have been quick to praise Syndergaard, over at Bleacher Report, Zachary D. Rymer did quite the opposite. In his article buying or sell some surprising starts to spring training, he was “selling” the fact that Syndergaard has returned to form. Here’s a part of what he said:
“The big catch is that the 6’6”, 242-pounder’s fastball is still nothing like the triple-digit terror he had at the outset of his career. He sat between 91-94 mph his last time out on Monday, or precisely where he was amid his unspectacular 2022 season.
“True, there is some intrigue to be found in how Dodgers starters put up a league-best 2.75 ERA last season even as their average heater checked out at 92.9 mph. But that had a lot to do with their guys getting the most out of nasty secondary offerings. Because neither his slider nor his changeup really stood out in 2022, that Syndergaard has even one of those to leverage for better results in 2023 is not something to take for granted just yet.”
While I do agree with the fact that the Dodgers (and Syndergaard) were hoping the velocity would be a little higher, it is still early in spring. After topping out at 93 mph in his first start, Syndergaard slightly improved, reaching 94 mph in his second. And even though the velocity hasn’t been as high as he wants, he’s still retired 15 of 16 batters and been pretty dominant on the mound.
So, respectfully, I have to disagree with Rymer, and not only because I share a name with Noah. Syndergaard was someone I wanted the Dodgers to sign way earlier in the offseason, and I have made it clear that I think he’s going to be one of the steals of the offseason.
So, yes, the velocity has been a bit lower than anticipated. But if anything, the fact that he’s still been nearly perfect should be a positive sign. Because if the velocity does get up a little higher, he’ll be virtually unhittable.
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