It took some time, however the Dodgers lastly made their first main acquisition this offseason — not named Clayton Kershaw, in fact.
After seeing a number of affect gamers go away through the Winter Conferences, it seems the time has come for a few of these holes to be stuffed. The Dodgers signed former All-Star Noah Syndergaard to a one-year $13 million deal that features $1.5 million in potential efficiency bonuses. Though it is probably not the ex-Mets ace that some followers had been hoping for, it nonetheless seems like a top quality signing that is smart for each side.
Syndergaard just lately took to Twitter to point out he’s prepared for the relocation:
After lighting the league on hearth his first few years in The Present together with his electrical fastball, The God of Thunder started to flame out. Between 2017 and 2021, Syndergaard missed appreciable time with numerous accidents that culminated in a Tommy John surgical procedure that price him his 2020 season and most of 2021. Syndergaard parleyed his previous success right into a one-year contract with the Angels. He pitched effectively to the tune of a 3.83 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 80 innings of labor, and confirmed sufficient for the Phillies to commerce for him on the deadline to bolster their eventual World Collection roster.
Syndergaard shouldn’t be the identical pitcher he was earlier than the accidents began to pile up. At his peak, he was constantly among the many hardest throwing starters within the sport (averaging 98.3 MPH), which made his above-average off-speed pitches even deadlier. In 2016, he led the league in FIP whereas compiling a 29% strikeout price. Final 12 months, Syndergaard’s fastball velocity dropped right down to 94.1 MPH, which prompted his profession low Ok-rate of 17%. At simply 30 years outdated, Syndergaard may nonetheless have many extra years in baseball, however provided that he can learn to succeed together with his present repertoire.
Enter the Los Angeles Dodgers, a corporation that has constructed a popularity of taking over reclamation tasks and turning them into studs. Simply final 12 months, followers had been besmirching the early offseason signings of Andrew Heaney and Tyler Anderson, solely to shortly change their tune when each noticed profession resurgences. The Dodgers are hoping they’ll work a few of their magic this 12 months with a pitcher that possesses a a lot increased ceiling than something they’ve had prior to now. And Syndergaard was probably intrigued by this proposition as effectively after seeing the contracts each Heaney and Anderson earned this offseason.
Syndergaard figures to fit into the Dodgers rotation as their fourth or fifth starter behind Julio Urias, Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin Could, together with LA having a number of prospects ready within the wings. If nothing else, Syndergaard’s presence offers LA extra depth at a place that has seen numerous starters miss time with damage lately.
It’s true that if Syndergaard can put up related numbers to final 12 months, he can be a lower than thrilling addition to this position. Nonetheless, if Mark Prior actually is the pitching whisperer, Thor may show to be the steal of the offseason. This isn’t to say I’m anticipating something near classic Syndergaard blowing hitters away with constant triple digit heaters. Quite the opposite, to show his profession round, he’s going to need to embrace his new repertoire and develop into a totally completely different pitcher. The Dodgers’ entrance workplace is an opportunistic bunch that take calculated dangers, they usually probably have already got a plan to assist Syndergaard, which I feel it might be so simple as altering his pitch combine.
If we have now realized something from Dodger pitchers through the years, it’s that pitch combine might be the distinction between success and failure. Syndergaard can’t depend on his fastball to get hitters out anymore and it might be time to reevaluate how he assaults hitters. He had good success together with his breaking ball final 12 months and the Dodgers in all probability already see a possibility with that. It’s the same state of affairs to what they did with Chris Martin and Anderson final 12 months the place they threw a better share of their simpler pitches. There was no huge mechanical overhaul, simply throwing completely different pitches in numerous conditions.
Kershaw went via the same state of affairs a couple of years in the past. As his velocity began to dip, the answer was to throw his slider in a means that would enhance the rate distinction between it and his fastball whereas throwing the off-speed pitch way more usually. I think the Dodgers can have Syndergaard do one thing related.
With Syndergaard already having a strong slider/curveball mixture in his repertoire, the transition right into a backwards pitcher might be fairly seamless. Trying again at Syndergaard’s pitch breakdown through the years, Syndergaard’s Whiff % on his breaking pitches is constantly close to or higher than 40% on each his slider and curveball. Nonetheless, being the facility pitcher that he was, he didn’t want to make use of them a lot, having thrown them at a 20% price and 10% price respectively. He will get swings and misses, he simply must throw his off-speed extra usually. Kershaw was in a position to evolve as he received older, and I don’t see a cause Thor couldn’t do one thing related, albeit in all probability to not the extent Kershaw has seen.
Clearly it’s too early to inform precisely if that is the strategy the Dodgers plan to take to assist Syndergaard attain his full potential, and there’s no assure he received’t simply be the identical man as final 12 months, however this signing offers each side a really distinctive alternative to learn from a resurgent Thor. The ceiling for this deal was just too excessive for the Dodgers to not experiment with, as Syndergaard will get an opportunity to revive his profession with among the finest organizations in baseball and the Dodgers get a proficient pitcher on a low-risk contract with the potential for him to develop right into a strong starter once more.
Certain, the prospect of Syndergaard changing into dominant once more will not be extremely probably, however we have now stated that about lesser pitchers the Dodgers have signed prior to now, and LA additionally has the organizational depth to cowl themselves if this plan fails miserably. It stays to be seen if the Dodgers are completed including to the rotation and there are nonetheless some holes to fill within the area, however it is a good place to begin for a corporation that appears intent on staying underneath the posh threshold this season. Bearing in mind the remainder of the roster, if that is the one transfer they make to enhance the rotation, it’ll nonetheless be a profitable offseason in that regard.