It hasn't been a great year for Noah Syndergaard, who was expecting a major bounce-back campaign with the Los Angeles Dodgers ... who were expecting the same when they gave him $13 million this offseason.
Across his first six starts (totaling 31.1 innings), the right-hander is 1-3 with a 6.32 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 1.40 WHIP and 21 strikeouts. His declining velocity is a problem. His inability to induce swings and misses is concerning. His "reinvention" after losing his triple-digit fastball has taken multiple steps backward.
And it's now reached the point where the Dodgers are skipping his turn in the rotation with a high-profile series against the San Diego Padres on deck. On Wednesday it was announced manager Dave Roberts was shuffling around the rotation.
Instead of Syndergaard pitching on Saturday, which would've been his next scheduled outing, he'll get the ball on Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers as the Dodgers' best three arms -- Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May and Julio Urías -- take on the Pads.
Fans would collectively agree that this is a positive step to give Thor some time to get back on track, work on his mechanics, and power through some mental hurdles. But it also wouldn't be incorrect to say that the Dodgers are lacking confidence in the veteran.
Dodgers skipping Noah Syndergaard's next start shows lack of confidence
This came on the same day as top prospect Gavin Stone's MLB debut, too, which means Syndergaard could eventually be squeezed out of the rotation now that Tony Gonsolin is back and Stone is getting a chance (even though his outing was rocky).
Now, before we get too down on Syndergaard, it's important to know that he's had three quality starts this year against the Diamondbacks, Cubs and Mets. His ERA is inflated because of two starts against the D-backs and Pirates, which featured 13 earned runs on 17 hits across just eight total innings.
Still, though, the fact that he ranks in the bottom percentile in the league for expected batting average, strikeout percentage, whiff percentage, fastball velocity, and fastball spin isn't encouraging whatsoever. The Dodgers already making this alteration to the rotation shows that they're not willing to let these drastic inconsistencies persist.
Many other moves might influence Syndergaard's eventual demotion (or worse), too. The trade deadline, by the time we get there, may implore the Dodgers to make a momentous move if they continue to play at a high level. Top prospect Bobby Miller might be ready come midsummer. The eventual returns of JP Feyereisen, Daniel Hudson, Blake Treinen, Jimmy Nelson, Alex Reyes and Ryan Pepiot may create a tight roster situation.
It's good that Syndergaard has a bit of time on his side and will have the opportunity to work through his struggles at the moment, but the Dodgers flagging this down after just six starts perhaps indicates they'll be willing to make an even more aggressive adjustment should the situation arise down the road.