- Gregory Bull/AP
Noah Syndergaard is off to a red-hot start for the surging New York Mets.
The 6-foot-6 righty nicknamed “Thor” has been blowing away the baseball world through four starts, posting a 1.69 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, while giving up just 22 hits to 38 strikeouts and no home runs.
Even more impressive has been Syndergaard’s physical dominance on the mound, as he has been hitting 98 mph on his fastball and 93 mph on his new slider, according to FanGraphs.
And while this type of power is virtually unseen in MLB, it’s also raising concerns about how sustainable it is. According to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, some people in the baseball world are worried about whether Syndergaard can continue to throw the ball so hard, especially when he figures to log so many innings.
Verducci spoke to an MLB GM, who said that either Syndergaard is a force of nature or this won’t last:
Physical freaks come along once a generation. He’s either that or this is not sustainable. The odds tell you that it’s not sustainable. It’s easy for people to point to his size and say that’s why he’s different than everybody else. But I don’t know that size alone protects you. He does look like he has good mechanics.
Right now, he stands alone with his stuff. Nobody sits at 99 mph and throws a slider 93…
The question is, does he hold up? There’s almost no one else to go by.
As Verducci notes, the last pitcher to lead baseball in fastball and slider velocity was Syndergaard’s teammate, Matt Harvey, in 2013, when he was averaging 96 and 90 mph, respectively. Harvey blew out his elbow the next season.
While analyzing Syndergaard’s newfound slider, “Baseball Tonight’s” Bill Ripken noted that Syndergaard’s “off speed” pitches come across the plate at 93 mph. What they lack in technique, such as spin or movement, they make up for in speed.
ESPN’s Mark Simon wrote about Syndergaard’s hot start and asked a major-league scout about Syndergaard’s ceiling. The scout acknowledged that maybe only one thing could get in Syndergaard’s way: “[His] ceiling is unlimited. Amazing talent. I wish him good health.”
As Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander told Verducci, medical science and training has improved so much in recent years that Syndergaard’s body may be well-adapted to throwing this hard.
Nonetheless, there’s risk of Syndergaard throwing out his arm. He’s established himself as the best pitcher in the Mets’ rotation, which means that he has many innings ahead of him.
Mastering control and spin on pitches like his devastating slider may become very important factors for Syndergaard as opposed to hurling the ball so hard on every pitch.