While the 6’6”, 240-lb flamethrower showed up in some of the best shape of his life—Syndergaard added more than 15lbs of muscle to his frame with intense workouts and protein-packed “Bowls of Doom”—his durability didn’t hold up.
“Thor,” as Syndergaard is affectionately known by fans, only pitched 30 1/3 innings for the Mets in 2017 after tearing a lat muscle in April. (That didn't stop him from appearing in a cameo in Season 7 of Game of Thrones, but it wasn't much solace to Mr. and Mrs. Met.)
The injury was a wake-up call for Syndergaard, who has changed up his training routine in the hopes of avoiding a similar injury in 2018. While he rehabbed during the 2017 season, Syndergaard started working with trainer Eric Cressey, who specializes in working with baseball players and athletes dealing with injuries.
“I am still lifting heavy, but in a more smart way,” Syndergaard said to the NY Daily News. “Last year was not the most smart way in terms of exercises and choices. For instance, last year I did a lot of pullups—that’s a lat exercise. This year I haven't done one pullup yet. It’s different, but still a taxing workout.”
The Mets are banking on Syndergaard's return to form: He made the All-Star team in 2016, and at 25 years old he's still just scratching the surface of his talent. Along with that, Syndergaard is learning more about the limitations of his body and how he can work to stay durable during the course of a 162-game season.
“I am working on flexibility issues that I have had my entire life. I am becoming a more well-rounded athlete,” Syndergaard said. “Like, Monday at the gym I worked out with the Canadian Olympic sprint coach who was there, and worked on my sprint mechanics. Not that I am trying to become a sprinter, but I’d like to look like I am not out there running in flip flops.”
During the 2016 off-season, Syndergaard spoke with Men’s Fitness about his off-season routine, and some of the workouts he finds most effective in his training.
"Each day is tailored to my needs," said Syndergaard. "Whether it's doing a [scapular] exercise, rotator cuff workout, back, or legs training—each day I have something structured and targeted. My strength and conditioning coaches do a really good job of making sure we're healthy and staying strong on the field."
Even though he’s coming back from an injury, Syndergaard has high expectations for himself and the Mets.
“The way I finished the season that last start against the Phillies, I feel like my pitches were there, my repertoire was better than before, the velocity and straight power all felt great at the end of the season,” Syndergaard said. “If I continue to stay healthy, I am very confident.”
Here's a look at some of the workouts Syndergaard's been doing, straight from his Instagram page:
1. Syndergaard working a loaded up sled for a workout:
2. Syndergaard gets in a med ball workout:
3. Syndergaard working on his explosive strength:
Man these are tough!!! I’ve been working with the guys @go_exxentric exxentrics_go doing some of my off season training on the #kbox4pro. This thing is amazing for athletic training because i can work on producing power in both the concentric and eccentric phase of whatever lift I’m performing. ROFD (rate of force development) is king when it comes to the sporting field. How quickly you can get to peak force production whether accelerating or decelerating is the key to dynamic field play. I’ve never felt more explosive than when using this in conjunction with normal resistance and power training. Oh....and if you are into metrics this #kMeter thing can give you all you need. The best way to use this thing is with a velocity cut off point so you dont get a poor return on your monster effort.