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2022 report card: Noah Syndergaard

Thor didn’t have his thunderbolts, but it wasn’t the worst trade in the world.

MLB: World Series-Houston Astros at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

We all kind of knew that the Phillies were trying to add an arm at the trade deadline. As the minutes ticked by and the actual deadline got closer, many of us thought that they might not do it, unable to push an acceptable deal over the finish line.

Then this one hit us, dare I say, like a thunderbolt.

It wasn’t really expected. Check most of Twitter that day and you’ll see the Phillies had “interest” in him, but weren’t said to be all that close to getting him. Then boom - he’s there.

Syndergaard wasn’t really seen as a hugely impactful trade. Instead, he’d provide innings for them instead of a revolving door of call ups and bullpen games. He also meant that the top pitching prospects weren’t going to be traded or rushed up to help reinforce the team.

2022 stats, w/ Phillies: 10 G (9 GS), 54 23 IP, 63 H, 26 R (25 ER), 9 BB, 31 K, 4.12 ERA (3.66 FIP), 0.6 bWAR

The Good

Had you expected Syndergaard to perform like the 2015 version of himself, surely you found nothing good about his stint in Philadelphia. I’d implore you, though, to look a little closer. Syndergaard was actually almost everything the team wanted when they got him.

Coming to Philadelphia, his repertoire needed a bit of tinkering as he was leaning on too many things that weren’t helping him. Caleb Cotham got his hands on him and upped his sinker usage, dropped the four-seam usage and had him remember he had a slider.

It seemed to work as he did pitch to admirable numbers with the team, though we also have to take into account the opponents he faced:

  • Washington, three times
  • Miami, two times
  • Cincinnati, two times
  • Pittsburgh, once
  • San Francisco, once
  • Toronto, once

Outside of our neighbors to the north, who he only faced over two innings, Sydnergaard wasn’t exactly facing the 1927 Yankees when he took the mound. It was likely a concerted effort of the part of the team not to expose him to better offenses, but someone has to pitch those innings. What Syndergaard did pitch was pretty much exactly what the team needed when they traded for him.

The Bad

I mean, at some point, you’d expect your starters to throw innings, right?

The biggest complaint about Syndergaard wasn’t his stuff (it was clearly diminished). It was the fact that he couldn’t last long in the games he did start in. But, hindsight being 20/20, he actually did give them innings! Eight of his nine starts in the regular season went five innings or more. What people are thinking of is the more recent starts, the ones he made in the playoffs. Against both Atlanta and Houston, Syndergaard only last three innings, the one start against Houston haunting the team a bit as perhaps he was left in a bit too long.

There was good reason to yank him. Hitters, facing Syndergaard a third time, hit .291/.354/.420 in 131 such plate appearances, almost 60 points higher in each category. It wasn’t wise to leave him long against a lineup, something the Phillies recognized and acted on. He fit well with a staff that had other starters going longer and helping give the bullpen rest, but over the course of a 162 game season, there may be times when he’d have to be stretched maybe just a bit longer.

The Future

He’ll latch on somewhere. There is still an effective starting pitcher somewhere in there. It’ll be hurt by the pitch clock, for sure. The new rules might not help him much, but someone is going to take a chance that he’ll get better the further away he gets from his elbow surgery. If the Phillies brought him back on a one-year deal, it’s not the end of the world. Just know what you’re getting: 4-5 innings of decent baseball with an arsenal that is a few grades lower than what it used to be.

Grade: B-

If you had the right expectations for what Syndergaard was going to perform like after his trade, then your personal grade might look similar to mine. If you were expecting the Syndergaard of old....well....I don’t know what to tell you.

Depending on what he is looking for in free agency, the team would be wise to discuss having his come back to the team. He’s a decent fourth starter, capable of giving better performances against lesser teams. If he does return and the team keeps using him the way they did, he could give them some solid value.