Clayton Kershaw Confident Dodgers See How To Help Noah Syndergaard Improve

The Los Angeles Dodgers went into the offseason with starting pitching high on their priority list as Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney and Clayton Kershaw all reached free agency.

The Dodgers quickly re-signed Kershaw to a one-year contract for the 2023 season but saw Anderson and Heaney sign with the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers, respectively.

The Dodgers filled one of the voids by signing Noah Syndergaard to a one-year, $13 million contract that reportedly includes incentives for innings pitched. The right-hander was once one of the top starting pitchers in all of baseball, but he has been limited since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020.

During an interview with Alanna Rizzo on MLB Network’s “High Heat,” Kershaw expressed confidence the Dodgers will be able to help Syndergaard return to form:

“I think coming off of Tommy John, last year proved that he was healthy. The Dodgers always see stuff, so I’m sure he’s got some type of analytical numbers, some type of something that they feel like they can get his velo back up to where it was, or he can do this or that. On a one-year, deal, it’s a really bargain. We’re excited to have him and we need him, quite frankly. I hope he comes in ready to go. HIs stuff is great, so we’ll see what happens.”

As Kershaw mentioned, one area that Syndergaard can stand to improve in is velocity. When the former first-round draft pick first broke into the league with the New York Mets, he had a fastball that routinely reached triple digits.

“The old me, the velocity is one thing. But coming back from Tommy John, about month 13 or 14, I was throwing 97-98 (mph) in bullpens and then I had a little setback. I’m not really sure if my body went into fight or flight to protect itself kind of thing, or if it was I felt like I had been throwing for the last three years,” Syndergaard explained last month.

“With the rehab, over the last three years, I might’ve only had three or four total months off, so that might have been a factor into the velocity dip. I started going down a movement and pitching mechanics rabbit hole, and was getting away from what made me great. When I had surgery, everyone was always telling me that I was too big, too bulky, too strong.

“So instead of continuing to do what made me really good and just chalking it up to Tommy John surgery that a lot of pitchers and baseball players go through, I completely did an overhaul of my training program. My emphasis in the weight room was a lot of mobility, athleticism, and kind of shifted away from the strength and explosiveness.

“This last year, the results were pretty good, but there were a lot of starts where I was kind of fighting myself and not having a lot of confidence in my delivery. It was hard to fix that during the season.”

Noah Syndergaard enjoys pitching at Dodger Stadium

Syndergaard drew interest from several teams this offseason but was intrigued by the opportunity to join the Dodgers in large part due to his affinity for Dodger Stadium.

“There were a few teams. I’m not really sure how many. I let my agent deal with it and when things really caught steam, to let me know,” Syndergaard said when discussing his free agency.

“I think there were quite a bit of teams that made phone calls but I was really only interested if they were pretty serious. As far as my decision to choose the Dodgers, I feel like everything that they touch turns to gold. This is a pretty surreal moment. It’s been my dream to play for the Dodgers ever since I was first introduced to Dodger Stadium in 2015.

“Just the energy and atmosphere that Dodger fans create, the goosebumps I get every time I step on the field as a visiting player, and I feel like my performance is always elevated when I play there.

“Even this year, when I kind of had a down year based off my expectations and my standards, I still feel like the one start I had at Dodger Stadium was some of the best stuff I had.

“I have the utmost confidence in the staff and organization to help me get back to being the old me. I just really am fortunate and blessed to play for such a great organization that the Dodgers are.”

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