Noah Syndergaard Wants More Than Victory In Game 3 Of 2022 World Series

The Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies are tied at one ball game apiece in the 2022 World Series after the Astros had won Game Two by the score of 5-2. As the series leaves Houston and moves to Philadelphia for the next three ball games, look for the Astros to remain aggressive as they are the first ball club in World Series history to start a ball game with three consecutive extra base hits. Before the Phillies even knew what was happening in the bottom of the first inning of Game Two, they were losing 2-0 on four pitches thrown by Zack Wheeler. The Astros’ offensive explosion began with leadoff hitter and second baseman Jose Altuve rediscovering his swing with three hits over eight pitches.

Game Three marks the first World Series ball game played in Philadelphia since Game Five of the 2009 World Series when the Phillies had defeated the New York Yankees by the score of 8-6. According to Baseball-Reference, the Phillies have hosted Game Three of the World Series on four occasions (1983, 1993, 2008, 2009) and have accumulated a 1-3 record with a -10 run differential. In each of these instances when the Phillies had returned home, the World Series was tied at one ball game apiece. The Phillies have won both of their world championships (1980, 2008) at home.

Besides the magnificence of Bryce Harper, the Phillies’ recipe for success this postseason is broken down into four categories: win tough ball games on the road, capitalize on the advantages of playing at Citizens Bank Park, outstanding pitching, and mastering the art of comebacks late in ball games. The Phillies have been excelling when it comes to making in game adjustments and grinding out at bats much to the dismay of opposing pitchers. Manager Rob Thomson and hitting coach Kevin Long’s extensive history working in various roles within the Yankees’ organization have helped the Phillies adopt a philosophy that had worked well in the Bronx as evident by the seven pennants and five world championships over 14 seasons (1996-2009).

As the Astros will turn to right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers, Jr., the Phillies are giving the ball to right-handed pitcher Noah Syndergaard. A trading deadline acquisition by the Phillies in August from the Los Angeles Angels, Syndergaard’s last World Series appearance had occurred in Game Three of the 2015 World Series while pitching for the New York Mets. In six innings, he allowed three earned runs on seven hits while striking out six. Syndergaard was the winning pitcher as the Mets had defeated the Kansas City Royals by the score of 9-3 at Citi Field.

Syndergaard is not only pitching to help the Phillies take a 2-1 lead in the 2022 World Series, but also for a contract. In some ways, the 30-year-old pitcher is auditioning for major league ball clubs given his upcoming status as a free agent. Last November, Syndergaard signed a one-year, $21 million contract with the Angels. While his name, image, and presence still resonate with baseball fans, Syndergaard is no longer a 22-year-old flame throwing pitcher who relies heavily on 4-seam fastballs and sinkers that would regularly eclipse triple digits.

Talent has never been a question for Syndergaard as much as it is health. During his six seasons in uniform with the Mets, Syndergaard had confronted a series of injuries that impeded his development. In March 2020, he had surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow prior to his age 27 season. Syndergaard missed the abbreviated 60-game regular season due to the pandemic and returned to the mound on September 28, 2021. He has only made 30 or more starts in a season twice (2016, 2019) while pitching for the Mets.

Syndergaard’s goals heading into free agency last offseason was health and normalcy after nearly two years of setbacks. He wanted to sign with a ball club that was committed to him and provided a clear plan of action for the resumption of his career. Syndergaard knew he would have to deal with an innings restriction in his first full season post-surgery, but the opportunity to be back playing baseball took precedence over everything. As the Angels were heading towards their seventh consecutive losing season amid high expectations, Syndergaard became expendable due to the estimated $7.4 million remaining on his one-year contract according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts and the short-term value he presented to several ball clubs chasing a postseason berth.

Besides the 10-10 record and 3.94 earned run average (ERA) over 25 ball games (24 starts) for the Angels and Phillies, Syndergaard pitched in 134.2 innings and struck out 95 batters. This is the first time that Syndergaard’s strikeouts had failed to match or surpass his innings pitched. Even in the two innings he had pitched at the conclusion of the 2021 season, Syndergaard struck out two batters. According to Baseball Savant, Syndergaard’s 2022 pitching repertoire emphasized the usage of three pitches: sinker (31.7 percent), slider (22.4 percent), and changeup (20.1 percent). The 4-seam fastball (14.9 percent) and curveball (10.9 percent) rounded out the quintet of pitches.

Syndergaard has appeared in three postseason ball games for the Phillies with one of them being a start against the Atlanta Braves in Game Four of the National League Division Series. In 5.1 innings pitched, he has allowed one earned run over three hits while striking out four batters to produce a 1.69 ERA. Over 68 pitches, Syndergaard has relied heavily on the sinker (26 pitches), curveball (17 pitches), and slider (13 pitches) combination with the 4-seam fastball (four pitches) and changeup (eight pitches) used sparingly. A pitcher synonymous with power, Syndergaard’s seven fastest pitches this postseason range in velocity between 95 – 95.9 miles per hour.

Noah Syndergaard expects to get through at least three innings against the Houston Astros in Game Three of the 2022 World Series given how Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson has strategically utilized his bullpen this postseason. Syndergaard’s mindset will be solely focused on maximum effort and achieving two objectives: putting the Phillies in an advantageous position to win the ball game and showcasing his abilities to ball clubs who might be interested in signing him to a contract this offseason. Given the intense focus on strategy, let’s not forget how Syndergaard had 11 starts during the regular season in which he had completed at least six full innings with five coming with the Phillies. The ball clubs had won seven of the contests.