Are Dodgers already dealing with workload issues for Noah Syndergaard?
How many more concerns can Los Angeles Dodgers fans possibly deal with as Spring Training comes to a close? This roster, though some have convinced themselves it won't be far worse than the 2022 or 2021 versions, really hasn't rounded into form, further validating the folks who criticized the way it looked on paper.
The one unit fans were hoping would weather the storm was the starting rotation, which still boasted names such as Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Noah Syndergaard, with Ryan Pepiot (and hopefully Gavin Stone) waiting in the wings. Great depth. Enough to compete day in and day out.
But then Gonsolin sprained his ankle and won't be ready for Opening Day. Kershaw's spring performance has been a tad concerning (plus we know he won't be good for more than 22 starts). And now there seems to be a bit of an issue with Syndergaard.
On Tuesday, the right-hander was pulled from his fourth outing of Spring Training to "monitor his workload." Additionally, he experienced a velocity drop as low as 90 MPH after returning to pitch a couple more innings (as Cactus League rules permit). He couldn't finish his first two innings of work, though, and ended up surrendering six earned runs on six hits and a walk in 4.1 frames.
It was just the second time this spring he's pitched more than three innings in a single outing, and his 84 pitches marked over three times the amount he'd thrown in his next most laborious performance.
Should Dodgers be concerned about Noah Syndergaard's velocity dip, workload?
Syndergaard said he's not worried about the velocity drop and cited some "blister, nail issues" he's currently dealing with. Don't forget, that's something he's struggled with for a good portion of his MLB career, and it could very well affect his 2023 performance.
Problem is, though, Thor is looking to build off of his 2022 campaign, which was his first full season since 2019. Tommy John surgery limited him to just two innings across 2020 and 2021, and last year was supposed to be a prime opportunity for him to shake off the rust and gain back a semblance of his previous fire-breathing self.
Not only are the Dodgers probably not going to get that version of him -- based on what he and pitching coach Mark Prior have said -- but it seems longevity shortcomings might affect him from the jump, after his first appearance with an elevated pitch count resulted in an overall ugly showing.
But hey, this is Spring Training. It's for working out the kinks and getting rocked a couple of times. But Syndergaard was one of those guys who needed to alleviate some doubts rather than exacerbate them.
It's not quite threat level midnight, but it's another notch on the Dodgers' belt of question marks heading into 2023.