Believe it or not, the Mets have a solid rotation going for them. For a while, it looked like Noah Syndergaard was the leader of the pack, but Jacob deGrom has since stepped into the ace’s role.
Syndergaard is still a part of the “best pitchers in baseball” conversation, but his career could end a lot sooner than it should if he continues in a starting role while throwing as hard as he does.
Syndergaard’s average velocity is 98.2. Few can hit 100 MPH more than a few times per night, or throw a 93 MPH slider. While that speed is incredible, I can’t imagine a lasting career for him if he continues to pitch six or seven innings every five days with such a high velocity.
2016 was the season that really put the flame-throwing right-hander on the map. He finished with a 2.60 ERA and even received some votes for the Cy Young. Syndergaard was throwing harder than all the qualified starters by more than a full mile per hour.
During the offseason before the start of the 2017 season, Syndergaard trained like an animal to try and develop more muscle to throw even harder. While it was great to see his dedication to improving his craft, his training only hurt him when it came time to test his newfound strength.
Syndergaard’s training failed him when he tore his right lat muscle, not even a month into the season, keeping him sidelined for most of 2017. The Mets training staff boiled his injuries down to his training in the offseason. It was too much on his muscles.
Since his injury, Syndergaard has never pitched the way he did in 2016 when it seemed he was on top of the world. His velocity is still there, and he is still a solid starter, but it hasn’t been the same. The mounting injuries are starting to become a concern.
How to save Thor from himself
Eventually, Syndergaard’s arm will burn out, and his career will end much sooner than it would have to. If Syndergaard wants to prolong his career, while still blowing batters away with his incredible speed, he should consider a transition to a closing position.
Syndergaard averages about 10 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9). To compare, former Mets closer Jeurys Familia averages about nine K/9. Familia set multiple franchise records with the Met for games saved (51). Many of the games top closers have similar numbers. Kenley Jansen, Wade Davis, Bud Norris, Cody Allen, Fernando Rodney, and many others all have about 10 K/9, just as Syndergaard does.
Syndergaard could clearly succeed in a closing role. If he were to handle duties in the ninth inning, he would have a good chance of striking out the side every time he took the mound.
If Syndergaard could channel all of his strength into three batters, he would be pretty much untouchable. While it isn’t likely that the Mets will consider moving him to a closing position in the immediate future, it could be a decision that might save his career.
Do you think Syndergaard should ever consider becoming a closer? Could he succeed? Let us know in the comments below!
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