Noah Syndergaard's first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers is not going according to plan, and it sounds like the struggles are starting to get to him.
A rough night against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday — seven hits, five runs (all earned), three homers and only two strikeouts in five innings — pushed the right-hander's season ERA up to 6.54, which would be the worst mark in the National League if he had enough innings to qualify.
That's a far cry from Syndergaard's past form with the New York Mets, with whom he held a career 3.32 ERA while pumping triple-digit heat.
Syndergaard spoke with reporters after the game Wednesday, and things proceeded to get, well, pretty dark.
“Trying to make big adjustments in between starts isn’t the easiest,” Syndergaard said. “I would give my hypothetical firstborn to be the old me again. I’ll do anything possible to get back to that. I’m expected to go out there and compete, and today I just fell behind a lot of hitters."
Syndergaard joined the Dodgers this past offseason on a one-year, $13 million deal. The hope was that the Dodgers, long famed for getting the most out of previously struggling or anonymous pitchers, would be able to work their magic with Syndergaard, who posted a 3.94 ERA last year in his first full season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020.
As you can see, so far the opposite is happening. Syndergaard's sinker, his most-used pitch, averaged more than 97 mph in each of his first five seasons but logged a career-low 93.6 mph last year and is now averaging an even-lower 92.2 mph. With that, hitters are teeing off against it, hitting .292 and slugging .477 on the pitch this year.
For a Dodgers team that is already down three members of its rotation, with Walker Buehler, Julio Urías and Dustin May on the injured list, along with depth pieces such as Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove, Syndergaard's struggles are the last thing it needs. And Syndergaard seems well aware of that:
“It really sucks,” he said. “Right now I just feel like I’m the weakest link on this team. I want to go out there and compete and be successful for the other guys in this clubhouse, but it’s just not working out.”
The question now is how much more time Syndergaard will spend in the Dodgers' rotation.
The team's injury woes caused them to promote top-20 prospect Bobby Miller to the rotation earlier than expected, and the rookie has allowed only two earned runs in 11 innings across his first two starts. He was the natural choice to send back down once Grove completed his rehab assignment and especially once Urías comes back, but it might be in the Dodgers' best interests to bench Syndergaard at this point.2023-06-01T17:38:27Z dg43tfdfdgfd