Noah Syndergaard believes new muscle will add mph to his fastball
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The concoction isn’t listed on the menu, known only among fitness-conscious customers through word of mouth. About 10 years ago, at the request of a CrossFit partner, its creator plopped it down on a table and said, “Man, that’s a bowl of doom.” The name stuck.
It consists of sweet potato hash, half an avocado, two eggs and a choice of protein ranging from wild salmon to rib-eye steak. But Noah Syndergaard prefers his with applewood smoked bacon, venison and buffalo.
“That’s primarily what my diet consisted of this offseason,” the imposing righthander said Sunday, when pitchers and catchers reported to Mets camp.
Among the regulars at a clean comfort food restaurant in Dallas named Kozy Kitchen, the massive protein bomb has become a favorite.
“It’s huge,” said Nick Pavageaux, the chef and owner at Kozy Kitchen. “It’s one of our biggest sellers.”
For Syndergaard, 24, it was something more: fuel for his ambitious goal of pushing his limits.
He has been the hardest- throwing starting pitcher in all of baseball the past two seasons, according to FanGraphs. Listed last year at 6-6, 240 pounds, he already appeared sculpted from blocks of titanium, all set beneath his signature flowing blond mane.
Yet Syndergaard spent his winter adding 17 pounds of muscle, hoping that it will make him more durable and add yet another tick to his already overpowering fastball.
“I always want to throw harder and continue to make the game easier,” said Syndergaard, the Mets’ likely Opening Day starter. “I felt like last year, from my rookie season, my velocity jumped up . . . I’m always going to be trying to raise that kind of bar.”
So Syndergaard set about doing just that, happily walking the fine line between aspiration and hubris. As a rookie, his fastball averaged 97 mph. Last year, he ramped it up to 98. He went 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA and struck out 218 in 183 2⁄3 innings, an example of his dominance.
Aside from a bone spur in his elbow that doctors believed did not need surgery, Syndergaard powered through the 2016 season without the arm ailments that felled the rest of the Mets’ starting rotation.
While Syndergaard adjusted his throwing routine, he made no other concession to the bone spur. “I’m just going to listen to my body,” he said.
Of course, Syndergaard is aiming for more than just a repeat of a brilliant season. He revamped his diet and became a regular at the EXOS training facility, which is frequented by major-leaguers.
“I just always wanted to make the game easier,” said Syndergaard, who once hit a 425-foot homer and threw a 100-mph fastball in the same game. “I’m always trying to raise the bar and continue to improve.”
Though far from definitive, some research into the torn ligaments that lead to Tommy John surgery has linked velocity to an increased likelihood of injury.
But Syndergaard considers reshaping his body as a step toward his goal of durability. So he worked out and downed Bowls of Doom, all in an effort to test the limits.
“Hopefully, it allows me to go deeper into games with more ease,” he said. “But I also paid a lot of attention to maintaining my flexibility so pitching is not just max effort. It’s all about being fluid and having flexibility out there.”