The Dodgers’ buy-low free agent flier on Noah Syndergaard hasn’t panned out thus far. The former All-Star righty has been tagged for a 6.54 ERA in 52 1/3 innings. After throwing quality starts in three of his first four outings, he’s only once since completed six innings — a start in which he surrendered six runs in Tampa Bay.
Syndergaard had another frustrating appearance this afternoon, allowing five runs in as many innings with three homers in a loss to the Nationals. After the start, manager Dave Roberts was noncommittal about Syndergaard making his next start (relayed by Juan Toribio of MLB.com). Los Angeles has off days on Thursday and next Monday, so they could bypass Syndergaard’s next turn without officially pulling him from the rotation.
Since returning from 2020 Tommy John surgery, Syndergaard has worked with diminished velocity. The one-time fireballer is averaging only 92.1 MPH on his sinker this season. That’s down nearly two ticks from last season’s work with the Angels and well below the upper-90s heat he’d featured early in his career. Not coincidentally, Syndergaard has seen his homer rate skyrocket and has punched out a well below-average 15.3% of batters faced.
Syndergaard’s struggles add to some uncertainty at the back of the L.A. starting staff. The Dodgers have gotten great work out of Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin but doesn’t have much present stability behind them. Walker Buehler is still rehabbing from last year’s Tommy John procedure. Julio Urías and Dustin May are both currently on the shelf, with May ruled out until at least July.
The Dodgers have leaned on some younger depth options to take the ball. Top prospects Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone have made their big league debuts this year. Stone has struggled, allowing 17 runs with more walks than strikeouts over his first ten innings. Los Angeles optioned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City yesterday, setting the stage for righty Michael Grove to return to the rotation.
Grove has been on the shelf for a little more than five weeks thanks to a groin strain. He’s expected to be reinstated on Saturday to take the ball against the Yankees, tweets David Vassegh of 570 AM in L.A. It’ll be Grove’s fifth start of the season. The 26-year-old has an 8.44 ERA through 16 innings but performed fairly well in Triple-A last season.
Depending on Urías’ and May’s health outlooks, the rotation looks as if it’ll be an area for the front office to monitor as trade deadline season gets closer. In spite of the starting pitching depth, L.A. leads the NL West at 34-23 and is positioned to buy this summer yet again.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently alluded to trade season, discussing the potential to bring in some offensive help over the coming months (relayed by Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register). The front office head pointed to the defensive flexibility shown by Mookie Betts as opening additional trade avenues for the organization.
Bettes has mixed in middle infield work, including his first career shortstop appearances, with his customary corner outfield responsibilities. While the Miguel Rojas–Miguel Vargas tandem is still the primary middle infield, Friedman noted that Betts’ ability to move around the diamond could allow the Dodgers to look into various ways to bolster the lineup. That’d presumably be through scouring the corner outfield market while potentially increasing Betts’ shortstop reps at Rojas’ expense, though the market won’t come into clear focus for a few more weeks.