Last season, Noah Syndergaard basically dominated with a fastball/sinker, curveball, and a changeup. He tinkered with a slider, but he only threw it 3.15% of the time. After a full offseason to work on the pitch, Syndergaard announced in a big way that the pitch will be a big part of his repertoire this season.
— Pitcher List (@ThePitcherList) April 5, 2016
A 95 MPH SLIDER! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!?!?
You don’t throw 95 MPH sliders with all the cheat codes on when you’re playing a video game. It’s not seemingly impossible. It is impossible. Somehow, someway Syndergaard was able to do it. Syndergaard took that pitch and took it to another level. Everyone noticed it, including Syndergaard himself as Adam Rubin reported:
“I realized in the beginning of the game I had a pretty good feel for it,” Syndergaard said. “I really took it to the next level, because I’ve never thrown a 95 MPH slider before . . . . I kind of shocked myself with how good my slider was. It felt good in spring training, but I amped it up to another level today.”
That’s an understatement. Seven of Syndergaard’s nine strikeouts came with the slider. He only had 11 strikeouts from his slider all last season. None of the Royals could hit the pitch, not even Hall of Famer George Brett – he of 3,154 hits and a career .307 batting average.
“There is no man alive who could’ve hit those three sliders Syndergaard threw to Morales,” Yost said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 95-mph slider. George Brett was in here [his office] and I asked him if he could hit that, and he said no way.” (New York Post)
After watching Syndergaard last year, we should no longer be surprised that Syndergaard has unmatched and unhittable stuff. And yet, he continues to amaze because he has a strong work ethic and a willingness to be coached. He gets better and better. He even amazed his teammates; the same people who watch him day in and day like David Wright.
“He had electric stuff,” captain David Wright said. “I looked up at the scoreboard and saw 94, 95. I go ask [catcher] Travis [d’Arnaud] what those pitches were, and he’s talking about sliders. That’s unheard of. That’s about as good as I’ve seen. Stuff-wise, composure-wise, for a young guy to come into this environment and throw that type of game, he’s got the ability to be a special one.”
By the way, for all the talk about his new unhittable slider, Syndergaard still had his original pitches all working:
Syndergaard is averaging 99.7 mph on his sinker. Not approaching. Not maxing out at. Averaging.
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) April 5, 2016
“He was throwing me fastballs right down the middle,” said Alex Gordon. “I couldn’t catch up.” No one was catching up to the fastball. No one was making contact with the slider. Travis d’Arnaud, an exceptional receiver, even had trouble catching the pitch at times. Syndergaard now has two unhittable pitches. Amazing.