Thor Goes Hollywood as Noah Syndergaard Signs with Dodgers

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a quiet offseason thus far. It hasn’t gone unnoticed, but the reigning NL West champions made a couple of transactions on December 14. Los Angeles acquired JP Feyereisen via a trade, and more notably, reportedly inked former All-Star Noah Syndergaard to a one-year deal.

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A Look at Syndergaard

A former top prospect, Noah Syndergaard made his MLB debut back in 2015 with the New York Mets. Syndergaard’s callup helped fuel the Mets that season, as he played a key role with the eventual NL champions.

Los Angeles, in particular, became all too familiar with Syndergaard that year. The pitcher affectionately known as “Thor” struck out 11 Dodgers over 7.1 IP in the 2015 NLDS.

The following season was a breakout one for Syndergaard. Syndergaard struck out 218 batters over 183.2 IP, and led all of MLB that season in FIP (2.16). The righty’s torrent season earned him an All-Star selection, and a start in the NL Wild Card game against the Giants. However, 2016 was the high point of Syndergaard’s career thus far.

Injuries kept him out for most of 2017, but Syndergaard came back to have a relatively strong 2018 campaign. The 2019 season was more of turbulent one for Syndergaard, as his ERA ballooned up to 4.28 in that season.

An elbow injury in 2020 forced Syndergaard to undergo Tommy John surgery, and wiped out virtually all of his 2020 and 2021 seasons. That paved the way for Syndergaard to enter free agency for the first time last winter.

The righty opted to reject a qualifying offer with the Mets, and instead ink a one-year deal with the Angels. While Syndergaard’s ERA (3.83) with Anaheim was fine, the 30-year old’s strikeout (7.2 K/9) and whiff metrics were down considerably from his days as a Met. Not to mention, Syndergaard’s sinker sat in the low to mid-90’s, a sharp departure from the high-90’s and low-100’s he regularly displayed with New York.

Syndergaard found his way to Philadelphia at the Trade Deadline. The 30-year old was a useful arm for the Phillies late in the season and in the playoffs, before faltering in the World Series against Houston.

As far as advanced metrics go, Syndergaard’s numbers were a mixed bag. Walks were not a problem for “Thor,” as the 30-year old sported a tidy 2.1 BB/9 in 2022. On the other hand, Syndergaard’s GB% (43.2%) rate was down quite from his career average of 48.7%. Hitters were able to square up his pitches on a more consistent basis, as well.

One other interesting note regarding Syndergaard was his usage of the changeup. Traditionally a solid third offering for Syndergaard, the righty used it 20.1% last season, more than usual. Did it work? Well, xBA and Whiff% on the change both went in the wrong direction.

PitchYearSpeed (MPH)Whiff%xBA
Changeup201690.340.3.223
Changeup201890.338.9.192
Changeup201991.128.2.226
Changeup202288.526.2.300

Now, Syndergaard heads back to Los Angeles for 2023.

What it Means

Los Angeles has not been very active this offseason, a sharp departure from the franchise’s modus operandi. The Dodgers have lost multiple pieces from its team last year, including Tyler Anderson (Angels), Andrew Heaney (Rangers), and the most notable subtraction, Trea Turner (Phillies). After losing Turner, the Dodgers did not opt to chase any of the other available shortstops in free agency.

Rather than a big splash, the Dodgers have looked to smaller adds to its roster for 2023. LA signed Shelby Miller a few weeks prior, and most recently, picked up reliever JP Feyereisen in a deal with the Rays. Feyereisen won’t able available for most 2023 thanks to an procedure on his shoulder.

The Dodgers’ rotation was strong in 2022, but it will look somewhat different in 2023. With Anderson and Heaney gone, and Walker Buehler out for all of 2023, Los Angeles will look towards Syndergaard to fill out the back end of a rotation that features Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, and Clayton Kershaw. If Syndergaard can re-gain his form, it can be a boon for an organization for both “Thor” and the Dodgers.