Following an off-day on Thursday, the Dodgers kicked off a three-game series with baseball’s best team, the Tampa Bay Rays, on Friday night. Noah Syndergaard pitched through the sixth inning, something no other Dodger starter had done in nearly two weeks. The six innings were rocky, just as Syndergaard’s start in Los Angeles has been as a whole.
The Dodgers were on the board before an out had been recorded in the game. Mookie Betts walked to lead off the game, followed by back-to-back singles by Freddie Freeman and Will Smith. Tampa responded with two runs in the bottom of the first, and the Dodgers would not lead for the remainder of the game.
Tampa, who currently holds baseball’s best record by a significant margin (38-15), has been nearly unbeatable at home (25-5) and continued that trend on Friday. Home runs by Yandy Diaz and Jose Siri helped the Rays prevail, 9-3.
The Dodgers have a knack for “fixing” players. Time and time again, players come to Los Angeles and suddenly elevate their game to an entirely different level. Players like Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, and Evan Phillips were never really able to find their footing in the league prior to their time with the Dodgers. Others, including Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney, had been around the league for a while and hoped the Dodgers could work their magic and turn them into top of the rotation starters.
Syndergaard came to LA hoping to find a career resurgence. Once a prized prospect and top of the rotation starter with the New York Mets, the man nicknamed “Thor” has been a shell of himself since leaving Queens. Syndergaard is with his third team in three years and at this rate, he may be looking for a fourth fairly soon. Through ten starts as a Dodger, Syndergaard has a 6.27 ERA through 47.1 innings. There’s really nothing you can say other than that isn’t going to get it done.
It is no secret that the Dodgers are going through a rough patch with their starting rotation. Julio Urias and Dustin May are on the IL, Michael Grove and Ryan Pepiot are hurt in Oklahoma City and two rookies are being asked to throw valuable innings as they cement themselves in the league. Given how thin the rotation already is, the Dodgers may not be able to afford letting Syndergaard go at this moment. The team needs starters who are going to eat innings, hence why Syndergaard went six innings today despite giving up six earned runs in the process.
That being said, once there is some depth back in the rotation, Syndergaard may be the odd man out. He is being paid $13 million on a one-year deal. Simply put, the Dodgers took a flier on a struggling starter hoping to strike gold. To this point, their gamble hasn’t paid off and it wouldn’t surprise me if they decided to cut their losses once they can afford to do so.
The Dodgers look to even the series tomorrow afternoon. Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Dodgers as Tampa hands the ball to Tyler Glasnow to make his season debut. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 PST.