Noah Syndergaard is less than two years removed from Tommy John surgery, and in his time with the Los Angeles Angels, he’s had to manage himself while working through the growing pains of a pitcher coming off of a major procedure.
During his time with the New York Mets, Syndergaard thrived on being a power arm who was known around the league for his upper 90s fastball and wipeout stuff, but his fastball has taken a bit of a decline after Tommy John, and it isn’t clear if or when it could return.
Many pitchers who have had the same surgery seem to find relative success in the years following, some lose velocity, or feel, but Syndergaard’s four-seam fastball is being hit at a .309 batting average.
But again, he is still a work in progress given that Syndergaard made a name for himself as a power pitcher, so his continued work in his secondary stuff is just as important as the heater, via Sam Blum and Eno Sarris of The Athletic:
“We don’t know what (the fastball) is going to end up being, because it’s still relatively near or close to rehab,” said Angels pitching coach Matt Wise. “I’m really happy with where the slider and the changeup are right now. Just trying to see what’s working that day and give the team a chance to win.”
Nothing on his Baseball Savant page grades out as elite or resembles who he once was, but his 3.86 ERA this season, coupled with a 3.76 FIP, speaks for itself.
Much of his effectiveness stems from his ability to command all of his pitches. Syndergaard carries a sinker, changeup, four-seam, slider, and a curveball in his bag. With the exception of the curve, he throws the other four around the same rate:
“Traditionally we really try to narrow in on the delivery and the slider,” Wise said when asked if Syndergaard might start throwing more curveballs — a seldomly used, but effective pitch.” The slider has progressed. It’s trending in the direction that we’re happy with. We’ve talked a little bit over the last couple weeks about now that we’ve checked some of those boxes, let’s move on to the curveball.”
The biggest change for Syndergaard is that his fastball is lack the vertical movement it had from 2016-2019, and although his spin rates and release all line up with career averages, it just isn’t there:
“As the season goes on, I think it will creep up more and more, just as I get more comfortable working on my delivery,” Syndergaard said. “So yeah, I’m not too concerned about it.”
What is most important for him is to stay healthy and on the mound, as he seems to be without an innings limit, but that plan may change if things begin to go in any direction.
General manager Perry Minasian open to all options at deadline
With the strength of the Angels’ roster laying mostly on the shoulders of the offense, Minasian needs to expand his scope when determining how to improve in ways that’ll help the club climb out of the near fourth-place hole they’ve dug themselves into.
Shohei Ohtani is back to pitching like an MVP on the mound, Michael Lorenzen is a grab bag on any given night, Syndergaard is performing nicely, but his expected numbers could shift his season at any time, and Patrick Sandoval is quite good.
Many of these starters will near career highs in innings a bit past mid-season or are still coming off of injury and could pose a depth issue down the stretch.
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