Tyler Anderson leads Angels past Dodgers, Noah Syndergaard
ANAHEIM ― Noah Syndergaard and Tyler Anderson arrived at Angel Stadium with similar goals Monday: to use their final exhibition start to prepare for a new season with a new team.
Coincidentally, each pitcher’s new team was the other’s old team. That familiarity seemed to benefit the Angels’ lineup more than the Dodgers’.
Syndergaard allowed five runs in five innings, including home runs by Mike Trout and Taylor Ward, in the Angels’ 5-4 victory. The right-hander allowed 11 runs across his final two spring training starts to finish with a 5.79 ERA.
“I feel like I’m really close,” Syndergaard said. “I’m tinkering with things every day just to see what works for me. I look at other pitchers and I see how their bodies move. Sometimes I’ll try to apply that to me, which doesn’t necessarily work for me. I watch a lot of video from 2019 and previous years, just trying to get to that comfort and those positions. At that point, I’ll have a lot of confidence and conviction.”
The Dodgers signed Syndergaard, 30, to a one-year, $13 million contract in December to effectively take Anderson’s spot in their starting rotation. After signing a $21 million free agent contract with the Angels a year ago, Syndergaard went 5-8 with a 3.83 ERA before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies at midseason. He then appeared in 14 games with the Phillies, who made a surprising run to the World Series.
When he signed with the Dodgers, Syndergaard expressed his desire to regain the triple-digit velocity that defined his career with the New York Mets, before Tommy John surgery wiped out nearly all of his 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Syndergaard only threw 10 four-seam fastballs among his 85 pitches against the Angels, touching 95 mph. His sinker touched 94 but also yielded some of the Angels’ hardest hits, including the 414-foot homer by Trout in the first inning.
“If I don’t throw 100 again, that’s fine,” Syndergaard said. “I’m not going out there trying to throw 100. I’m going out there trying to get outs. If I just trust my delivery, which I did for the most part tonight, I’ll be in pretty good position.”
Anderson limited the Dodgers to two runs in 5⅓ innings in his first home start as Angel, both coming on solo home runs by Mookie Betts and Miguel Vargas.
The left-hander, who enjoyed a career year with the Dodgers in 2022, walked one batter and struck out five. Anderson finished spring training with a 1.35 ERA in three starts, not including an exhibition game against the United States’ World Baseball Classic team in which he allowed four runs in two-plus innings.
“I feel good,” Anderson said. “I think I got enough innings out. I finally feel like I’m in a better spot with my delivery and kind of ready to go compete.”
Anderson rejected the Dodgers’ qualifying offer to sign a three-year, $39 million contract just down the 5 Freeway, while Syndergaard hand-picked the Dodgers for their reputation for rebuilding careers like Anderson’s.
Anderson is already earning the respect of his teammates, Manager Phil Nevin said.
“One thing about him is his leadership qualities to our other young lefties out there,” Nevin said. “He’s great by example for one, but he also kind of has just taken those guys under his wing, if you will. It’s about preparation, what he does leading up to his start. You can already see it. They all have been bonding together, they’ve been working together. If you notice when they come in from the bullpen, all the starters are together. I really like what that group is becoming. And he’s a big part of that. He’s kind of the leader of that pack.”
The Dodgers used solo home runs by Chris Taylor and Luke Williams in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, to make the final score close. Right-hander Cesar Valdez closed the door with a perfect ninth inning.
Anthony Rendon went 3 for 3, and Brandon Drury, Shohei Ohtani and Taylor Ward each had two hits for the Angels.
Alex Vesia, Yency Almonte, Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol and Caleb Ferguson did not allow a run in relief of Syndergaard. Betts had two of the Dodgers’ eight hits.