Noah Syndergaard
AP Photo

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has lost confidence in his nasty slider, which he has always relied on.

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard has always had two weapons in his arsenal. His monster fastball, which can touch 100 MPH, and his nasty put-away slider. They’ve been a big part of the reason why he’s produced a stellar 3.17 ERA for his career.

However, it appears that Thor doesn’t have Mjolnir in his arsenal anymore. His slider has been slower and not as sharp this season, and he’s noticed. He told Yahoo’s Matt Ehalt that he has lost confidence in the pitch. “I don’t know what happened to having one of the best sliders in the game to now having zero confidence in throwing it.”

That’s not something fans will want to hear from Jacob deGrom‘s running mate, but it makes sense. He has struggled this season, with his ERA sitting at 4.93 and his WHIP at 1.25, both career highs. That said, there are signs that it isn’t time to panic yet. His velocity is high and he’s been working “every day” to rediscover his slider.

“It feels like every ball I get that comes into play feels like it’s covered in baby powder,” Syndergaard said. “If I felt I had some quality grip on the ball, maybe I’d have more confidence in throwing it. From the get go, the grip is not feeling comfortable. I don’t know if it’s the feeling of the baseball or what it may be.”

There has been a lot of talk of the balls being “juiced” this season, and this could be a side effect of that. If the ball is different the grip will feel different. It’s not encouraging, and when the grip is off the pitch will be off.

New York Mets

Manager Mickey Callaway feels that the bad slider, which Syndergaard uses only 13.1% of the time this season, is allowing teams to hit his other pitchers more successfully.

“When you lose your best weapon, everything else gets exposed a little bit more,” Callaway said. “That probably has something to do with it. They don’t have to respect his slider as much, so they can kind of understand he’s not going to go to that as much and it leaves your other pitches susceptible. The lack of production in his two-seamer at this point is because his slider hasn’t been there and he needs to lean on change-ups and curveballs.”

However, Syndergaard remains confident that his hard work and his natural ability will allow him to rediscover the pitch. He also thinks that he’ll come out of this slide for the better. He’s beginning to feel more confident in his other pitches.

“I’m optimistic,” Syndergaard declared. “It’s forcing me to use my other stuff and developing that to be even better quality pitches. I’m starting to get a lot more trust than I had before in my change-up and my curveball is developing into a better pitch than it was better previously. Once that slider clicks, I’m still going to be patient with it, if it doesn’t come around my next start, still optimistic in having the results with what I’m getting now.”

It’s concerning to see Syndergaard’s current lack of confidence in his best pitch. However, there’s a reason that it’s been his best pitch his entire career, and it’s more likely than not that he’ll rediscover it.

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