Jacob Barnes

Miguel Castro Can Make Or Break Mets Season

As the New York Mets embark on the 2021 season, we know Edwin Diaz will close, and we know Trevor May can pitch as a set-up man. Past that, this bullpen is a complete and utter quagmire.

Seth Lugo may be out for the first two months of the season. Aaron Loup is a LOOGY. Dellin Betances lost his velocity, and Jeurys Familia still doesn’t have his command.

Robert Gsellman has an 80 ERA+ since being converted to a reliever at the start of the 2018 season. Jacob Barnes has not been good since 2018. Even with his good whiff rates, he gets hit very hard.

After sifting through all the options, you eventually come to Miguel Castro. With Castro, the Mets may have the key to the entire bullpen.

Castro, 25, has been a mediocre reliever in his career as evidenced by his 104 career ERA+. However, that is mostly due to his control issues.

According to Baseball Savant, Castro has elite velocity throwing 98+ MPH. He generates good spin, and, at least in 2020, that led to a lot of swings and misses. That’s also evidenced by his 13.9 K/9, which is nearly double his career 7.4 mark.

The issue for Castro is he just can’t control anything consistently. He has a career 4.7 BB/9, and he hasn’t had a season better than 3.1. His K/BB is a woeful 1.59, and it hasn’t been better than 2.40 over the course of a full season.

It’s not just the walks. Castro gets hit extremely hard. Essentially, Castro puts himself at a disadvantage with his control, which leads to walks and extra base hits. If he can truly harness it, Castro can emerge as dominant a reliever as there is in baseball.

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/miguel-castro-612434

On that note, the Mets have helped him and their entire pitching staff. James McCann has emerged as an excellent pitch framer. Tomas Nido is also strong in that department. As we have seen in Spring Training, this has helped Castro not only rack up the strikeouts but also limit walks.

That should help him make quicker work of batters. It should also give him more confidence in attacking hitters. It’s been looking good so far in Spring Training.

In 6.1 innings, he has allowed just two hits while walking just one. He’s also struck out eight batters. Essentially, it’s been difficult for batters to make real good contact against him, and that’s for the batters who can make contact.

If he carries that into the season, Castro can stake a claim as the Mets top reliever. Better yet, between him, May, and Diaz, it’s a six inning game. And, that’s before Lugo returns.

If Castro reverts back to what he’s always been, well, the Mets bullpen is in trouble. That’ll leave Diaz and May as the only true reliable late innings relievers. After them, who knows?

That’s how important Castro is to this team. If he falters, the Mets bullpen is in bad shape. It’ll be a bunch of used to be greats and a group of pitchers hoping someone can break out.

That’s what’s at stake. Castro can single-handedly swing the fortunes of the Mets bullpen. It can be great or less than mediocre depending on Castro’s development. That makes him pivotal to what the Mets want to accomplish this year.

For the Mets sake, they need Castro to be as dominant as he was in the Spring. They need him to be the guy whose light out stuff can shut the door. They need it from him because the Plan B in this Mets organization isn’t there yet or is hurt right now.

Jordan Yamamoto Should’ve Made Mets Opening Day Roster

With Opening Day about a week away, the New York Mets are whittling down their roster and getting closer to defining roles. With that, we’re going to see players win and lose Spring Training competitions.

In somewhat of a surprise move, Jordan Yamamoto will not be on the Opening Day roster either as the fifth starter or the bullpen. It’s especially surprising given multiple reports Yamamoto was in line to make the roster.

In terms of Spring Training performance, Yamamoto certainly earned the job. In his three appearances, he allowed just one earned over 8.1 innings. Notably, for a pitcher with control issues in his brief Major League career, he only walked one while striking out five.

All told, Yamamoto showed the Mets exactly what they wanted to see. Basically, he showed himself to be a much better pitcher.

For a pitcher who dipped into the 80s with his fastball last year, he’s been able to maintain a higher velocity. In fact, Luis Rojas remarked Yamamoto had good carry on his fastball.

That extra tick on his fastball is important because, as shown on Baseball Savant, Yamamoto has terrific spin and movement on all of his pitches. It makes him deceptive and an uncomfortable at-bat.

When he has that velocity his ceiling is that much higher. When he’s locating, he’s difficult to hit. In 2019, that led to some terrific starts. Between that and James McCann‘s work behind the plate, the Mets had a potential breakout candidate in their organization.

Instead, the Mets opted to put themselves in a position to burn Yamamoto’s last MLB option this year. That’s a strange decision to make at the outset of a season.

Sure, if Yamamoto struggled, you use the option. However, why use it up if you don’t need to do it? Moreover, why do it when Yamamoto looks to be one of the 13 best pitchers in Spring Training?

It’s a complicated answer.

In terms of the rotation, the Mets are sticking with the homegrown guy in David Peterson even if there are some red flags right now. They also seem to be leaning on Joey Lucchesi‘s experience as a starter.

Theoretically, Yamamoto could’ve been a long man in the bullpen, or he could’ve been an opener. In fact, he would’ve paired quite well with Peterson or Lucchesi. However, the Mets are going in another direction.

Instead of looking to keep the better and more promising pitcher, they’re looking to find a way to keep veteran’s who can opt to become free agents. Specifically, they’re looking to keep Tommy Hunter and Mike Montgomery.

Hunter could be a difference maker in the bullpen, but we haven’t seen it this Spring. Montgomery is the inverse with his having a great Spring, but he’s had a 4.03 ERA and 4.41 FIP since 2017. Also, right-handed batters have annihilated him over the past two years.

This also presumes they want to keep Jacob Barnes. The Barnes decision is an odd one with his having a poor Spring and his having a 6.75 ERA, 68 ERA+, and 4.71 FIP over the past few years.

There are a lot of moving pieces here, and it seems Yamamoto is very likely getting victimized by his having options available. That is being used against him as the Mets are looking to keep other players they’ll lose if they don’t put them on the Opening Day roster.

That’s a real shame because Yamamoto earned a spot. He’s got upside, and he could’ve provided real value in the rotation or bullpen. He should be there proving that on Opening Day. That said, with the amount of pitchers an MLB team uses over the course of a season, it’s very likely we see Yamamoto at some point in the majors in 2021.

When that happens, we can only hope he succeeds and proves the Mets made a mistake by not putting him on the Opening Day roster.

Mets Probably Don’t Need Another Reliever

Like it always seems to be, the New York Mets entered the offseason with the need to rebuild their bullpen. As the Mets entered Spring Training without Seth Lugo, there seemed to be a renewed emphasis on the need to add more relievers to the bullpen. However, when you break it down, the Mets may not need to actually add another arm.

Typically speaking, we will see the Mets carry a 12 man pitching staff which means seven relievers. Right off the bat, the Mets are set at closer with Edwin Diaz. He will certainly be joined in the bullpen by recent signees Trevor May and Aaron Loup. That trio right there takes care of the Mets closer, the eighth inning, and their LOOGY.

That leaves them having to figure out the other four relievers in the bullpen. Based upon the moves of Brodie Van Wagenen, three of those spots are occupied by Dellin Betances, Miguel Castro, and Jeurys Familia. This trio could very well become the core of what might be an excellent bullpen.

As previously detailed, Betances induced very weak contact last season, and he would miss a lot of bats. Looking at Baseball Savant, there was also a lot of promise with Jeurys Familia‘s season as he also induced a lot of weak contact, and he had terrific velocity. What really hampered each of their seasons was a mixture of walks and plain old bad defense.

Betances had a 1.56 GB/FB last year, but despite the weak contact, he yielded a .353 BABIP. Familia didn’t have the same issues with ground balls turning into outs as Betances, but he did see a career worst walk rate come back to bite him. Keep in mind, in only two of the 10 appearances where he didn’t walk a batter did the opposition score off of him.

Both relievers will be helped by the improved infield defense we should see with Francisco Lindor at short. Also, while we may see J.D. Davis start at third, in all likelihood, he should be removed late in games for Luis Guillorme thereby making the Mets defense elite for these groundball pitchers who induce weak contact.

Keep in mind, while Betances and Familia have typically had higher walk numbers, neither had really posted numbers that poor in their careers. Part of that could easily be explained by them trying to regain their prior form in a disjointed offseason. Really, both pitchers needed to hone a number of things, and the pandemic really cost them the opportunity to work with Jeremy Hefner like they needed.

Given a normal offseason and Spring Training, it is reasonable to assume both could be reasonably relied upon to at least easily handle the middle innings. Perhaps, they could eventually be reasonably be able to be relied upon for the seventh and eighth. In fact, we should be able to see them close a game or two here and there.

In terms of Castro, no one throws it harder. Really, that makes him a bit of a wild card not too dissimilar to what Hansel Robles used to be for the Mets. If you can harness him, you have an elite reliever. If you don’t you have an interesting mop up reliever. Either which way, he is out of options, and he is going to get every chance for the Mets to be the team to finally unlock his abilities.

When you add Lugo to these relievers, this bullpen could be the envy of every team in the majors. The question for the Mets is what to do in his absence. In terms of that, the Mets have plenty of options.

Joey Lucchesi profiles as a potential elite reliever. We have seen Robert Gsellman be elite out of the bullpen for stretches. If nothing else, we know he can absorb innings. The same could also be true for Jordan Yamamoto. The Mets also have a number of interesting young relievers to throw at the problem with Jacob Barnes, Yennsy Diaz, Sam McWilliams, Sean Reid-Foley, Drew Smith, Stephen Tarpley, and Daniel Zamora. Of course, there is also Mets fan favorite Jerry Blevins here on a minor league deal.

The moral of the story is the Mets have the talent in the bullpen. The real challenge is going to be for Hefner to work with them to get the most out of them. Then, perhaps the even bigger challenge is for Luis Rojas to deploy them properly. Overall, if Hefner and Rojas are successful, the Mets will get the most out of what is an extremely talented group, and we will begin to wonder why exactly we were so overly concerned about adding a big name reliever in the offseason.