Dodgers' Syndergaard Says Critics Are "Ignorant" About His Comeback Potential

Los Angeles Dodgers newly-signed starter Noah Syndergaard made his mark in the big leagues almost a decade ago with a scintillating fastball that often broached the 100 mph mark. But Tommy John surgery in 2021 drastically changed his career trajectory. 

Since coming back last season, his heater was nowhere close to triple-digits anymore, and he had to rely on other means to get outs. But the man known as Thor in his earlier days is still ready to bring down the hammer, and insists he can get back to that 100 mph mark. 

“There’s no reason it’s not possible," he told Jon Heyman of the New York Post. "The critics will say not at my age. But you look at [Jacob] deGrom exponentially increasing his velocity, and he’s 35 years old. [Justin] Verlander, too. I think it’s ignorant on the part of critics.” 

Still only 30 years old, maybe he's on to something. Last week, facing Dodgers hitters like Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy, he was regularly at 94 mph, but got it up to 96 at times.

Last year at this time, he was still coming back from nearly two years off, and still finished with a respectable 3.94 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies. But his strikeouts were way down, to 6.3 K/9. In his All-Star season with the New York Mets in 2016, he struck out 10.7 batters per nine. 

But Syndergaard believes his work ethic will have him continually upping the velocity, and returning closer to his old self in this, his second season back on the mound.

“My recovery game is second to none, my work ethic, my attention to detail and my passion for the craft and the process,” Syndergaard said. “So it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense how I can regress as a final product coming back from this rehab.”

That's what the Dodgers are banking on.

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports