A few weeks into 2023's spring training, former Norse God Noah Syndergaard was forced to acknowledge that he may no longer be able to touch 97 MPH with regularity.
A moment that seemed humbling at first blush may, in fact, have been the moment he successfully bought in to what Dodgers pitching guru Mark Prior had been selling. If his Dodgers regular season debut was any indication, Syndergaard has plenty left to contribute on a one-year deal in 2023.
Whether Syndergaard finds the 100 MPH he seeks or not no longer feels relevant. Clearly, he's on the road to recovery either way.
Syndergaard's Dodgers debut, in the fourth game of the regular season, started as perfectly as he could've asked for, with six pitches, six strikes, and a pair of outs.
Overall, in a game where he peaked at 94.3 MPH on the fastball and averaged 92.7, Syndergaard got through six innings, allowing four hits and an earned run, while whiffing six and walking none.
Dodgers starter Noah Syndergaard dominated vs Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday
It wasn't the four-seam fastball that bedeviled hitters so much as it was the varied offerings, all separated by a few miles per hour, that Syndergaard was able to command. His fastball never reached the mid-90s, but his cutter sat at 90 to keep hitters off balance, while his ~87 MPH changeup polished off four of his six strikeouts.
Sadly, the Dodgers' slowed-down offense became the story of this one; the bottom six members of the lineup going 0-for-21 isn't a winning formula.
The Diamondbacks' aggression also helped to win the day; Jake McCarthy's clutch bunt in the ninth pushed across the winning run, while an old Syndergaard bugaboo, keeping runners close to first, reared its ugly head with the dynamic Corbin Carroll on base.
Despite the loss, Syndergaard went a long way towards assuring the public that the Dodgers have pieced together a standout rotation once more, despite the losses of Andrew Heaney and Tyler Anderson.
Even without 100 MPH in his arsenal, Syndergaard's heater still outclasses what those two bring to the table, anyway. And look how they turned out under Prior's tutelage!