As Noah Syndergaard begins the process of recovery from Tommy John Surgery, he should reinvent himself to prevent future injuries. One of the things on top of his list should be working with former New York Met, Nolan Ryan, to regain confidence in his 4-seam fastball. Ryan even offered advice for Syndergaard to put pickle juice on his blisters in 2017.
Nolan Ryan v Randy Johnson:
Johnson Career – K's: 4,875, BB: 1,497, K/BB ratio: 3.26, K/IP: 1.18, L/GS: 28%, WHIP: 1.17, Cy Young: 5x, No Hitter: 2
— Bat Ball Mitt (@BatBallMitt) March 28, 2020
Randy Johnson credits Ryan for allowing him to reach his full potential. All it took was a short period for Johnson to absorb all of the information he needed to become the “Big Unit.” Syndergaard and Johnson are in two different points of their careers, but Syndergaard needs to return to what got him to the big leagues.
Syndergaard and Ryan draw a lot of similarities, both from Texas, both intimating pitchers and both with lively arms. The reason for Syndergaard to learn from Ryan would be to move away from the sinker and back to his traditional 4-seam fastball. Ryan threw near triple digits, with a nasty curveball and a good changeup. He mastered those three pitches and had kept himself in great shape, which allowed him to pitch for 27 seasons.
— MLB (@MLB) August 22, 2019
That is the potential Syndergaard has, even coming off of Tommy John. Syndergaard had shown the same demeanor as Ryan as well in the 2015 World Series and when he threw behind Chase Utley. Becoming a sinkerball pitcher has done more harm than good to Syndergaard’s production.
During his first two seasons, he threw the 4-seam fastball 38 and 30 percent of the time, which resulted in a 2.89 ERA, 10.8 K/9, and a 0.8 HR/9. In the following three, he has thrown the 4-seam fastball less than 30 percent of the time, in exchange for an increased sinker usage. His numbers resulted in a 3.67 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and the same 0.8 HR/9.
Why Fix Something That Isn’t Broken?
Syndergaard had no problem in the home run department but still sacrificed velocity to get more groundballs and contact. For someone who holds runners very poorly, he should be looking to prevent any possibility of runners getting on base.
When Syndergaard comes back from surgery, he will get less than a full season before heading into arbitration. If he wants to get paid what he deserves, his 2016 form needs to be what he presents. Anything less will not get him more than the $9.7 million he already makes.