Is there a role for Noah Syndergaard with Cleveland Guardians in 2024?

Trading for Noah Syndergaard was sort of a Catch-22 for the Cleveland Guardians. The best-case scenario, in which he shows anything resembling the Thor years with the Mets, would probably make him unaffordable for Cleveland as a free agent in the offseason. The worst-case scenario, in which Syndergaard is never healthy enough to take the mound this season, would mean they wasted a chance to get something useful for Amed Rosario and whatever money they end up paying Syndergaard this season.

It’s reasonable to say that the worst-case can be ruled out for Noah Syndergaard and the Cleveland Guardians

Syndergaard has pitched into the sixth inning in all three of his starts since coming to Cleveland, and has posted an ERA of 3.71. That’s not Cy Young material, but it’s a long way from the 7.16 ERA he posted in 12 starts with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Most important from Cleveland’s viewpoint, he has been efficient, averaging 14 pitches per inning and throwing 68 percent strikes, which has helped give the bullpen some rest. In two of the three starts, he has given up one run.

Syndergaard probably won’t help enough to change the dynamic in the AL Central race, but has he given the Cleveland Guardians reason to think about him in terms of next season? Obviously, 17 innings is a ridiculously small sample, and he has only struck out eight, so there are warning signs. Besides, the Dodgers gave him $13 million after a rather pedestrian (3.94 ERA) 2022 season, so it might not take much more this year for him to be priced out of Cleveland’s range.

Then again, the way this season has gone for Cleveland has proven the old adage that there’s no such thing as too much pitching. Gavin Williams and Tanner Bibee have each staked a solid claim to be part of the future, while Shane Bieber, Tristan McKenzie, and Cal Quantrill are hoping to get back in September and show they are healthy.  Logan Allen and Xzavion Curry might also be part of the equation, as well as prospects Joey Cantillo and Daniel Espino.

That seems like a lot of depth, but it wasn’t enough this year, and Bieber is likely to get traded before next year’s trade deadline. If nothing else, having a guy at the back of the rotation who can eat some innings is something the Guardians will need next year. Syndergaard should get as many as nine more starts before the end of this season, which means another 50 innings or so to show whether the last three games are a fluke. If he continues to deliver the same results, the Guardians should at least see if the dollars work for 2024.