Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: Noah Syndergaard

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Noah Syndergaard #34 of the New York Mets pitches in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on May 6, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Noah Syndergaard #34 of the New York Mets pitches in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on May 6, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Tuesday, May 15, the Toronto Blue Jays begin the away half of a 4-game season inter-league series with the New York Mets. The Blue Jays send Jaime Garcia to the mound while the Mets counter with one-time-Blue Jay prospect, Noah Syndergaard.

Noah Syndergaard has been a difficult topic for Blue Jays fans since he began dominating in New York. It only adds insult to injury that Syndergaard was traded for the disappointing R.A. Dickey. The trade with the Mets to add a Cy Young winner was supposed to bring the world series back to Canada. However, after a disappointing year of unfulfilled promises, the Blue Jays have seen little success as a result of the Alex Anthopoulos blockbuster.

After missing much of last year with a partially torn latissimus dorsi muscle (back), Syndergaard has returned to the dominant form he displayed in his All-Star caliber 2016. Through eight starts, Syndergaard has accumulated a 2-1 record, 3.09 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 125 ERA+, and 54 strikeouts.

Syndergaard will feature the sinker primarily, but will also mix in a slider, changeup, fastball, and curveball. Matching his nickname, “Thor”—a reference to the comic book hero, Syndergaard throws each pitch harder than most starters in baseball.

Thor’s uses his sinker 38.5% of the time and maintains a speed around 98 mph. The righty has used the sinker to produce a fair amount of groundballs this year; in eight starts, the sinker produced groundballs on 46% of balls in play. Known as a strikeout pitcher, Syndergaard’s ability to produce groundballs makes him even more dangerous. Currently holding an overall groundball rate of 46%, Syndergaard isn’t really a groundball pitcher by definition, but it is a great asset for the pitcher to have in his back pocket.

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The slider and changeup are the money pitches for producing strikeouts. Syndergaard uses the slider 18.7% of the time while it averages a very hard 92.4 mph. He uses the change 17.9% of the time at a quick average speed of 90 mph. Both menacing pitches, the big righty’s slider is the best at producing whiffs. Through his starts this year, the slider has produced a great whiffs per swing rate of 48.05%. A close second, Syndergaard’s change produces whiffs on 42.53% of swings.

Syndergaard’s changeup does not only produces whiffs, it also produces groundballs at a great rate. Currently, the change has produced groundballs on 65.38% of balls in play. Also impressive, Syndergaard’s changeup has allowed the least amount of line drives, as well, at a rate of 18% of balls in play.

The good news, though, is that Syndergaard is somewhat unlucky with balls in play off of his slider and changeup. Currently, the righty’s slider has produced a crazy BABIP of .474, while his change has produced a high .346 BABIP. With the whiffs that these pitches produce, these numbers will eventually be subject to some positive regression.

Syndergaard’s offerings are completed with a fastball and curveball. The righty’s fastball is used 13.3% of the time and is just a little bit quicker than the sinker, producing an average velocity a little over 98 mph. Syndergaard is not afraid to run the fastball up in against batters—as Alcides Escobar learned in 2015 World Series. His curveball is used 11.5% of the time and has a hard average velocity of 83.2 mph.

Syndergaard is well on his way to a great year in producing strikeouts and limiting walks. Currently, Syndergaard has a great K% of 27.6% and good BB% of 5.1%. As well, the pitcher’s FIP, currently at 2.78, suggests that he may be even better than the immediate numbers suggest. The right-hander produces medium contact the majority of the time—currently holding a 52.7% medium contact% for the year. However, these balls stay out of the air and the seats, as shown by his incredibly low HR9 of 0.77.

The Blue Jays have very limited experience against Syndergaard. Josh Donaldson, Kendrys Morales, and Yangervis Solarte each have one hit in three at-bats against the Texas native. Kevin Pillar has no hits and one strikeout in 2 at-bats against Syndergaard. The Blue Jays may have some experience in what Syndergaard offers, though, from his former teammate and current Blue Jays left fielder, Curtis Granderson.

Syndergaard is the last thing a struggling offence wants to see. He has the ability to get batters out in multiple ways, and is not susceptible to giving up a home run. However, he will give up some hits on lucky groundballs, as shown by his high 8.9 H9. Therefore, if the Blue Jays beat Syndergaard, they’ll have to be able to string some clutch hits together.

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