Following his inconsistent 2019 campaign, New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard is expecting his best strikeout weapon to return.
With the New York Mets preparing for their biggest season since 2016, they’ll need one of their best pitchers to improve off last year’s performance.
During the 2019 campaign, Noah Syndergaard produced a career-high 4.28 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 1.23 WHIP, .252 OPP AVG, 24.5% strikeout rate, 6.1% walk rate, 13.3% HR/FB rate, along with a 4.4 fWAR rating over his 197.2 innings pitched.
The biggest reason for these unusual results from the NL All-Star hurler is because of his unreliable breaking ball. Through his five seasons in the majors, Syndergaard has utilized his slider around 20% of the time and has consistently thrown it at 92 mph.
In 2019, Syndergaard’s slider averaged to sit at just 89 mph and he threw it just 15.2% of the time as well. In addition, Thor’s primary strikeout pitch generated a 39.6% whiff rate, which was down 6.5% from his 2018 campaign.
During his media availability on Tuesday, Syndergaard mentioned that he feels confident about how his slider has performed so far this spring and how he believes it should return to its previous form this season.
“I feel like the start of last season kind of showed glimpses of what it was in the past. I think there were a couple in the 93 (mph) range, so that was encouraging to end the season on,” he explained. “There’s been a few mound sessions (this spring training) where I’ve started implementing the slider, and it seems to be back to where it was in previous years.”
The hard-throwing righty also revealed that he began overthinking at times last season. As a result, Syndergaard feels his mental aspect on the mound made things become even more difficult with his slider.
“I think last year where I struggled was a little bit of paralysis by analysis,” Syndergaard discussed. “Thinking a little too much, making things a lot more difficult than they should be.”
Along with his confidence regarding his breaking ball, Syndergaard also expressed his excitement towards first-year manager Luis Rojas. Given Rojas’s success within the Mets’ minor-league system, the right-hander feels extremely positive about the winning culture that he’ll bring to their clubhouse this season.
“I’m extremely pumped and excited to have Luis as our manager. He’s a guy that has a winning pedigree throughout the minor leagues, I think two championships in Savannah and one in Binghamton,” Syndergaard said. “So he’s a guy that knows how to win, that knows how to reach the ultimate goal. And that’s winning a championship. We’re all excited for it.”
With the Mets looking to surge back into the playoffs this year, they’ll need Syndergaard performing at his best in 2020. In order to accomplish that feat, he’ll need to increase the usage and velocity of his slider during this season.