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Thor Ragnarok: The Tragic Downfall of Noah Syndergaard

It was just under 8 years ago, October 30th, 2015, that long-haired, flamethrowing Mets rookie, Noah Syndergaard delivered New York their only win in the World Series. Now he is on his 3rd team in the last 2 years, on the injured list, and has admitted that he has lost what once made him one of the most electric players to watch. So, what happened to the man they called Thor? Injuries? Bad performance? Rotten luck? Well, it's a combination of all those things and a lot more. This is the story of how Thor’s hammer betrayed him, and why thunder and lightning never strike where he goes anymore.

Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

2015-2017: Dynamic and Dominant Stuff

The blonde-haired fireballer was drafted by the Blue Jays, and sent to NY in the R.A. Dicky deal. He got called up in 2015, and gave the staff juice, providing a 9-7 record, with a 3.24 ERA, and 166 K’s in 150 innings of work, helping the Mets clinch the NL Pennant. Fans assumed that he and Jacob deGrom would form a two-headed monster atop the Mets' rotation. They were correct… For about a year. 2016 was by far his best season, being an All-Star, with a record of 14-9, a 2.60 ERA, and 218 K’s in 183.2 innings of work for New York. But in 2017 Syndergaard tore his right lat, missing the whole season. This was an unfortunate sign of things to come.

Photo: Nick Wass / AP

2017-2020: Purgatory

Despite injury woes, Thor didn’t lose any of his fastball velocity, with it still being a blazing 97.8 MPH on average, down just 0.9 MPH from his 2016 average. But something was off. Syndergaard showed flashes of greatness, like his 2019 season where he nearly threw 200 innings, but it was to an ugly tune of a 4.28 ERA. he was implementing a new strategy, being more of a sinker-fourseam-slider guy instead of a fourseam-changeup-slider-curve pitcher. Now I am not a pitching expert by all means but I can’t help but think why he would change from a dominant flame thrower who relied on the fourseam setting up his vicious upper 90’s slider and his equally disgusting curve to a lateral sinker setting up his slider and a fourseam to blow by. His sinker and fourseamer have similar velocity, but his advanced stats show that in 2015 he threw a fourseam around 15% more than the sinker, but that number shrank every year until 2018 when they had switched. Very interesting considering that his fourseam was always successful, typically reaching 102 MPH multiple times a start, but he just changed even though his velocity was still up. That would not be the case however in the years to follow.

Photo: Rich Schultz / Getty Images

2020-2021: Tommy John Surgery

Thor got Tommy John to repair a torn UCL in his elbow in 2020, which kept him out until the end of 2021. He threw 2 innings in ‘21 for the Mets, which would be his last as a member of the squad. He signed with the Angels in the following offseason.

Photo: Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

2022: Post-TJ Confusion to Another World Series Appearance

In early 2022, Noah was up to 95 on his sinker, relying on lateral movement rather than a straight, hard fastball. Having lower velocity on your fastball coming back from Tommy John is normal, take Chris Sale as an example. In 2021 when he came back mid-season, he barely reached 96. He hit 97-98 multiple times in the Red Sox playoff run and before he was shut down due to a shoulder issue this year, he finally hit triple digits again. So Syndergaard should have been back up to 98-99 by the end of the year, right? Wrong. He averaged just 94.1 MPH on his fourseamer last year, and 93.5 on his sinker. He wound up on the NL Pennant-winning Phillies by the end of the season, and did start Game 3 of the Fall Classic, but other than that he didn’t do much for the eventual runner-ups.

Photo: Matt York / AP

2023: Thor Ragnarok

Noah Syndergaard is on the IL, with a blood blister on his throwing hand. His fourseam fastball averages 92.6 MPH, while his sinker is just 0.3 MPH less than that. He is 1-4 with a 7.16 ERA, with just 38 K’s in 55.1 innings of work for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He may never throw a pitch for them again, or any other major league team for that fact. He has lost almost 10 MPH on his fastball, reinvented himself as a pitcher, and confused the baseball world on what went wrong for him in the first place. I honestly don’t even know. Did the injuries play a part? Of course. What about him just not pitching well? Sure, maybe that's why he decided to throw a sinker more often. Did the sinker-slider combo ruin him? I don’t know, if you look at the data it may have. Were his mechanics off, causing the velo drop? Possibly. Does he just have an extremely long Tommy John Hangover? Yeah, maybe. All of these are questions that you can ask yourself regarding Syndergaard. But what is certain is that he will be remembered for what he didn’t accomplish, and the traits that made him a top pitcher for a short while. The Cy Youngs he was supposed to win. The World Series he was going to bring to the Mets. And of course, his long blonde hair, and blazing heat.


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