Noah Syndergaard has yet to have a bad start with the LA Angels. He's five starts in and continues to shove every time he takes the mound. With a 3-1 record, a 2.45 ERA, a 151 ERA+, and a 1.057 WHIP, it very well may be time to start believing in Syndergaard as the pitcher he was early in his career.
The pitcher who was one of the best in the game. The pitcher who struck fear in the hearts of opposing hitters every single time they entered the box. And, his numbers so far this season have been even better than what they were back then.
From 2015-2018, Syndergaard's first four years and best four years, he posted a 37-22 record, a 2.93 ERA, a 132 ERA+, and a 1.133 WHIP. Syndergaard has been better in every category this year. After a down 2019 (that was still solid, by the way), Thor went down with a UCL injury and only pitched two innings in the next two years.
Similarly with Shohei Ohtani, however, the Angels have seemed to recover Syndergaard perfectly after coming back from the UCL injury. Ohtani followed up his UCL injury with the greatest season in sports history. Thor hasn't been performing at that level, but he has been better on the mound than even Ohtani was in 2021.
It's early, but Noah Syndergaard is close to have already shown enough to prove that the LA Angels have two aces.
Noah Syndergaard will need a few more starts of this caliber for the LA Angels to prove that he definitely is back to being the ace that he was from 2015 to 2018, but here's the scary thing: He's seven starts removed from Tommy John surgery. He hasn't even been throwing as hard as he soon will once his arm gets to full strength.
He's had to pitch differently and put an emphasis on his offspeed pitches and movement in his pitch arsenal due to him not having the arm strength after the surgery. Once he can pump 100 consistently again, it's over. That's why this hot start from Thor is nothing to scoff at.
His arm isn't even right yet. Sure, it's five starts. But when considering how much healthier he'll be moving forward and how he was NOT supposed to be pitching this effectively this early after the surgery, it IS worth making this comparison to the type of pitcher he was pre-2019.
Look at Ohtani, for instance. In his first five starts on the mound after TJ surgery, he had a 7.20 ERA. Since, he's had a 3.15 ERA in 25 starts. If Ohtani can improve as much as he did, imagine how well Syndergaard will be playing once he's recovered.
After all, this season is really the first time Syndergaard has played since the surgery. He had a couple tune-up "starts" where he threw one inning each last year (gave up two earned runs), so he did get a head start that Ohtani didn't get.
The point is, though, Ohtani improved significantly as the time away from his surgery increased. He's still improving to this day and throwing harder. Syndergaard will likely see a similar effect as well, and is already pitching at a high level.
The 2021 All-Star Game AL Starting Pitcher, Ohtani has already proven himself as a true ace. If Syndergaard can improve upon his current performance or even just maintain it, he'll give the Halos a second ace that will bring dominance to a rotation that struggled for so long.