For Those Worried Hard-Throwing Mets Pitcher Noah Syndergaard Could Be Destined For Surgery, Here's Why He's Different Than Most Pitchers

April 22, 2017

By William McInerney


Noah Syndergaard is an extremely exciting young pitcher. The 24-year-old has a career ERA of 2.80, and routinely hits 98-100 MPH on the radar gun. Additionally, he has been given the nickname of Thor due to his workout routine, and it’s hard to argue with it. He’s 6-6, 240 pounds, and has the long blonde hair that results in him resembling the Norse God and Marvel character (he looks a LOT like Chris Hemsworth).


However, the fact Syndergaard throws so hard, coupled with the high rate of Tommy John surgeries, especially among fireballers like Syndergaard, gives a lot of people cause for concern he will need that type surgery. While I share that concern, and I won’t say it’s impossible, there are a few things that make me slightly less nervous about him needing it than I am about other pitchers.


Syndergaard is something of a freak of nature, a 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds. His height and length allows him to spread the impact of his hard pitches across more area. While this isn’t a guarantee, it is a good sign. One issue smaller pitchers who throw hard have is their ligaments can’t hold up to the stress. For a pitcher who is as tall as Syndergaard, however, it isn’t as big of an issue, as his height is designed to carry more weight and torque. Thus, the amount of stress of throwing a high 90s fastball doesn’t impact him as much as it does a smaller pitcher.


Reason No. 2 is more important: Syndergaard pitches from his legs more than most pitchers. A lot of pitchers in today’s game don’t drive from their legs as much. They generate most of their power form their arms (Jeurys Familia is the most evident example of this I can think of). Virtually all the great hard-throwers of the past drove primarily from their legs (Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver both did this; Seaver to such a level his knee would hit the mound when he pitched).


The legs contain the strongest muscles in the body, and using them to generate your speed rather than the torque on your arm reduces the risk of arm injuries (seriously, why do you think Tommy John Surgery has increased as pitchers get away from the drop and drive? Because they’re now generating all their speed on the smaller ligaments and tendons of the arm).


Syndergaard, while not a drop and drive pitcher, does generate far more of his power from his legs than his arm. This allows him to generate the power on his pitches without putting as much strain on his arm.


Although there are no guarantees, and there is still a decent chance of Syndergaard needing a surgery at some point, he is somewhat less likely than other pitchers, especially those who generate speed from their arms.


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