New York Mets starter Noah Syndergaard did not live up to his Cy Young aspirations in 2019, and his struggle to command his wipeout slider contributed to the struggles. His once-dominant strikeout pitch saw a dip in usage and velocity, but he already feels the slider has returned.
Noah Syndergaard's slider averaged 89 mph last year, lowest since he was a rookie. But he believes his final start — the spike at the end of this graph — provided a glimpse of harder sliders to come.
"It seems to be back to where it was in previous years," Syndergaard said. pic.twitter.com/Qr67a5JNVV
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 11, 2020
From 2016-18, Syndergaard threw his slider about 20 percent of the time, and it sat around 91-93 mph. The new, slicker baseballs may have played a role in the inconsistency of his slider. During the last month of the season, Syndergaard saw the velocity increase, and he said the slider has gotten up to 93 so far.
The combination of a 98-100 mph fastball with the close to the mid-90s slider is a devastating combo. It would be enough for most pitchers to become a closer. Syndergaard also brings a changeup equal to Marcus Stroman’s sinker along with a curveball he still mixes in.
The sky is the limit for Syndergaard because of the four pitches he features. Each one is an above-average pitch, at worst. Syndergaard’s new success with his changeup allowed him to get by when his slider struggled. When both pitchers were working, we saw how dominant Syndergaard is. His slider was at his best during July and early August, and it is no coincidence that was the best stretch of his season.