Outside of two innings at the tail end of the 2021 season, Noah Syndergaard had not pitched in an MLB game since 2019. Tommy John surgery took him out for basically two full seasons, and it led to him signing a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
General manager Perry Minasian initiated a full-court press to try and land Syndergaard, ultimately agreeing to pay him $21 million for the one season. This was seen as a pretty large risk for a player who has essentially been out since 2019.
However, in the early days of Spring Training, optimism could not have been higher from Syndergaard as he prepares to help lead the Angels back to the postseason.
Following his first live BP session as the member of the Halos, he spoke about his health and how he feels with his mechanics, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“Yesterday, I felt really repeatable. Didn’t have to think much at all,” Syndergaard said Friday. “That’s been the ultimate goal for me, going out there and when I’m throwing against hitters to compete and not focus on competing against myself trying to find my delivery. If (catcher Max) Stassi puts down fastball away, it’s focusing on fastball away and not ‘OK, what’s my hip doing?’ That’s going to take away from the ability to convict on a pitch.”
“I was flying pretty high yesterday,” Syndergaard said. “Granted, it was only a live BP, but it’s the best I’ve felt in a long time. It felt really crisp.”
It’s very common for players to come to Spring Training in good shape. But Syndergaard seems particularly excited by the results of his BP session. During his two innings pitched in 2021, he was unable to throw any of his off-speed pitches, as his mechanics had not yet returned to where he wanted them to be post-surgery.
Now, he repertoire has been fully unlocked, a welcomed sight for the Angels. At his peak with the New York Mets, Syndergaard was one of the best pitchers in baseball. If he can re-discover those mechanics the way he believes he has, the Angels may have a bonafide ace.
A big question for Syndergaard, though, will be pitch limiations. At this time, he’s unaware of any specific limits being placed on him, but believes the Angels’ six-man rotation will do a good job of naturally limiting innings.
“I just want to go out there and compete as much as I can,” he said. “I know that there might be some limitations just coming off, not being able to pitch for the last two years and coming off Tommy John surgery, but I think it’s also a benefit because I haven’t pitched in two years, so my arm’s pretty fresh.”
“If you can get an extra day of rest, I think it’s really important for me coming off Tommy John surgery,” he said. “I think it’s just gonna allow my body enough time to recover and get ready for another start.”
All the ingredients appear to be in place for a comeback season from the All-Star pitcher. Now, it’s just a matter of delivering when the lights come on in April.
Minasian hoping to acquire more starters
If Syndergaard is healthy, the Angels rotation figures to be strong at the top. However, depth is a real issue based on what they have right now. Minasian has stated that he feels confident in young players developing and becoming quality starters, but he also was not shy about looking for options on the trade market.
Minasian stated that he absolutely would be interested in acquiring more starting pitching, but that the deal has to be right for the team and the player has to be a good fit. It remains to be seen if a deal like this exists at the moment.