Nationals @ Dodgers – May 31, 2023: Another day game, another Syndergaard start

It might just be me, but it sure seems like Noah Syndergaard is stuck pitching day games, and specifically day games at Dodger Stadium, more often than anyone else in the starting rotation.

April 21:10 p.m.vs. Arizona61
April 85:10 Arizona46
April 147:10 p.m.vs. Chicago63
April 1912:10 p.m.vs. New York62
April 256:35 Pittsburgh47
April 301:10 p.m.vs. St Louis5 1/33
May 96:40 Milwaukee10
May 157:10 p.m.vs. Minnesota42
May 206:15 St. Louis53
May 266:40 Tampa Bay66
May 311:10 p.m.vs. WashingtonTBDTBD

And actually taking the time to look over the Dodgers’ schedule this season and Syndergaard’s fourth day game does indeed give him the lead on the team, breaking a tie with Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias. Syndergaard also easily leads the team in terms of afternoon starts in Los Angeles, as all three of Kershaw’s and two of Urias’ three days games were on the road.

Syndergaard has been able to hold opponents under a 4.00 ERA in just two starts this season as I am excluding his 1-inning outing against Milwaukee. Those were his regular season debut against the D-backs and the Max Scherzer ejection game against the Mets on April 19. Those happen to be two of his soon to be four afternoon starts at Dodger Stadium this year, as he’s started just two night games in Los Angeles and the five night games on the road.

Do I actually think there’s any kind of correlation there? No. Did I just want to make this chart because I realized how often I end up watching his day games and needed something to open this Game Thread? Yes.

Image Image
1:10 P.M. Los Angeles
RF Thomas RF Betts
2B Garcia (L) 1B Freeman (L)
DH Meneses C Smith
LF Dickerson (L) DH Martinez
3B Candelario (S) 3B Muncy (L)
1B Smith (L) LF Taylor
C Ruiz (S) 2B Vargas
SS Abrams (L) SS Rojas
CF Call CF Thompson
P Corbin (L) P Syndergaard (R)

With a left-handed starter on the mound, of course Trayce Thompson is back in the order. After snapping his 0-for-39 run on Sunday, Thompson is now on a 3-for-3 stretch and is facing a pitcher he is 4-for-10 against in his career. The best career against Patrick Corbin in the Dodgers’ lineup? That would be Miguel Rojas and his 15-for-35 line that includes three home runs. From what I can see, Rojas has more hits against Corbin than any other pitcher in his career and the three home runs are among the 39 he has in his career.

The Dodgers had been struggling against left-handed pitching prior to Sunday before the Rays sacrificed Josh Fleming to a 6-inning outing with the Dodgers recording 12 hits, 10 runs (8 earned) and five home runs. Really, here’s the before and after season stats against left-handed pitchers for the Dodgers.

Before FlemingAfter Fleming
Batting Average.213.224
On-Base Percentage.308.314
Hard Hit%34.935.4%

As for the Nationals, that’s eight of the same nine batters from last night and the exact same nine as Monday. Scoring four runs in two games, which trails their already low 4.18 runs per game to rank 23rd in the league, the Nationals have one multi-hit game for a player in the first two games of the series. Going 2-for-4 last night and 1-for-4 in the opener, Lane Thomas leads the team with three hits against the Dodgers.

Really seems like if Syndergaard was ever going to have a decent game, today might be the day.


While Corbin (4.88 ERA/4.55 FIP/5.15 DRA) is not as bad in 2023 as he was in 2022 (6.31 ERA/4.84 FIP/6.05 DRA) or even 2021 (5.82 ERA/5.41 FIP/5.29 DRA), he’s still not very good. However, he is left-handed so really there’s no way to know what’s going to happen this afternoon.

Striking out 14.5% of batters, Corbin is 69th of 70 qualified pitchers in K% this season while his .287 batting average allowed is 68th of the 70. I could keep going on and on about it all, but Baseball Savant’s rankings can just save me the trouble.

Corbin has allowed at least two eared runs in each outing this year, peaking at six in 6 innings against the Rays back in early April with another six scored by the Royals in his last start this past Friday. Allowing seven or more hits in eight of his 11 starts, Corbin has still managed to reach at least 5 innings in every start other than his 2023 debut and is actually on a run of five straight starts reaching 6 innings. Of course, the 23-31 Nationals don’t exactly have a reason to pull him from games and he’s actually won three straight decisions thanks to his team’s 27 total runs of support against the Mets, Tigers and Royals.

For the second straight season, Corbin has abandon his four-seamer for his slider and sinker. Those three pitchers are just about all left-handed batters see, led by 40.1% sliders and 35.8% sinkers, with the change-up at 9.8% to righties. Sitting at 48.0% sinkers and 33.9% sliders to rght-handed batters, Corbin rounds it out with 8.2% fastballs.

Even as Corbin has struggled in recent years, his splits remain on the same track. Right-handed batters are hitting .275/.328/.455/.783 in Corbin’s career, with a .301/.332/.470/.802 line in 2023. Lefties are at .239/.299/.361 overall and .225/.279/.275/.554 in 2023.

Clearly, we are getting another 3-hit game from Trayce today.


As I mentioned in another thread a few weeks ago, I have very little interest in going in-depth on Syndergaard at this point.

Syndergaard’s pitch usage by game continues to vary, with the change-up back up top, rising over the past few games after reaching its lowest point on May 15th against the Twins. After rising up to it peak a few starts ago, Syndergaard’s cutter has slipped back down with the change-up rising back up to lefties. Syndergaard also finally brought back his curve against right-handed batters and supplemented that with his change against Tampa Bay.

Obviously we know how that turned out. For the Nationals, about half of the team’s batters have a xwOBA under .270 this season. Change-ups produce the same results, with 10 of 15 batters under a .270 xwOBA. As for sinkers, the Nationals have just two of 15 batters under a .270 xwOBA with 10 batters over .300. So I would imagine Syndergaard may continue to go in that direction, especially when his change (.327 wOBA, .300 xOBA) and curve (.319 xOBA, .227 xwOBA) are easily his most effective pitches this season as all of his fastballs combined are at .361 xOBA and .401 xwOBA in 2023 given this is where we are now.


In news that everyone already assumed, Michael Grove will be back this weekend.


All-Star voting is underway, so if you want to see Will Smith finally make it you better get to work.


First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. PT from Dodger Stadium on SportsNet LA.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.