With reports the Tampa Bay Rays are willing to entertain trades for Blake Snell, this would seemingly be the perfect time for the New York Mets to act. When you look at it, Snell would presumably fill a short and long term fit for the franchise.
Even with Marcus Stroman in the fold, the Mets need to find at least one more starting pitcher. Ideally, they would want two more. Snell would not only fill that need, but he could help make the Mets rotation once again the envy of all of baseball.
Snell also would fill another starting pitching need. After the 2021 season, Steven Matz, Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That will leave the Mets looking to fill at least 2/5 of their 2022 starting rotation. If you have Snell in the fold that will lessen that burden. The question for the Mets is how much Snell would be worth pursuing.
When many look at Snell, they see the pitcher who won the 2018 Cy Young Award. Our lasting impression of him was his dominant performance in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series before he was inexplicably lifted early. When you look at him from that lens, Snell is an ace level pitcher. When an ace level pitcher available, you need to pursue that pitcher heavily.
However, there are real questions if that is what Snell truly is. Really, when you break it down, Snell’s 2018 Cy Young award winning season has been a complete outlier in his career.
In Snell’s first two seasons, he had a 108 ERA+, 3.87 FIP, 4.5 BB/9, and an 8.9 K/9 while averaging 5.0 innings per start. In the two seasons since winning his Cy Young, Snell had a 111 ERA+, 3.65 FIP, 3.3 BB/9, and a 12.0 K/9 while averaging 4.2 innings per start. Certainly, these past two years have been a significant improvement over what he was over his first two years, but those stats are not remotely indicative of an ace level pitcher.
Of course, this is the Rays, so the analysis is not that simple. Remember, the Rays focus on not allowing their pitchers to go through the rotation a certain amount of times, and they are very strong believers in bullpenning. As a result, it is very arguable their handling of Snell has stunted his ability to again be what he was in 2018.
Taking a deeper look, Snell does have good stuff. Looking at his Baseball Savant page, Snell has elite to near elite fastball velocity and spin, and he has terrific whiff numbers. However, that is only part of the picture. When you dig deeper, you see his spin rates on his change and curve have significantly worsened since his Cy Young season. That said, after struggling with his slider in 2019, he was able to regain his slider spin rate in 2020.
All told, it is really difficult to ascertain what Snell’s trajectory will be. You could argue this is a pitcher who needs to get away from Tampa Bay to permit him to really focus on being able to become the ace level pitcher he can be instead of a five inning starter. You could also argue the Rays know his limitations and that their handling of him allows him to put up such high strikeout numbers, and as a result, with another organization, he may truly suffer.
In some ways, when you see the Rays dangling Snell, you can’t help but be gun shy due to the Chris Archer trade. For many, Archer was a pitcher who could thrive away from Tampa Bay. He was a pitcher with a similarly team friendly contract, and as a result, the Rays were able to extract a kings ransom for him. Now, Archer had his option declined due to TOS issues, and the Pirates are routinely chided for giving up Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz.
That’s not to say or suggest the Rays knowingly traded damaged goods. That is an unfair and unsubstantiated claim. Rather, this just highlights how well the Rays self scout their team, and it shows their ability to extract a significant price in return for their players. Assuredly, if the Rays do in fact trade Snell, they are likely going to try to command an Archer like return, and really, they should do that.
If you are a team like the Mets, and you want Snell, you better be right. You need the utmost confidence in Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and Phil Regan in their ability to not only return Snell to his 2018 form but to keep him there for the ensuing three seasons. If you are not, the Mets as an organization should not be pursuing Snell. Instead, they can look towards a very interesting starting pitching market which still has Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Jose Quintana, and others available.
Better yet, they could be using their financial capital to give Stroman and Syndergaard extensions while keeping their player capital in place to swing deals for other areas of need. That said, adding Snell to those two starters and Jacob deGrom is awfully enticing . . . .
Make no mistake, Steven Matz was an unmitigated disaster in 2020. He had a very good start on the second day of the season, but he just kept getting worse and worse.
He had a 44 ERA+ and a 7.76 FIP. He allowed 4.1 homers per nine. His 9.68 ERA was unseemly.
Under no circumstances would you tender a pitcher like him a contract. You non-tender him and make decisions from there. However, the Mets are not really in a position to non-tender him, and aside from that, it would be unwise to non-tender him.
For starters, the free agent starting pitching market is a mess. Beyond Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, the pitchers available are really not guaranteed to be any better than what Matz could give you on what will essentially be a one year deal.
As an organization, you’re in a better position to take a pitcher you know and work with him than go with another pitcher and start from square one. On that note, the Mets should be better equipped to get Matz right.
Entering next season, Steve Cohen has promised to beef up the Mets analytics departments and to upgrade the Mets technology. This means Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and even Phil Regan have more at their disposal to get Matz pitching to how we know he can.
We’ve seen that Matz not too long ago. In the second half of the 2019 season, he seemingly turned the corner.
While working with Regan and Accardo, Matz finished the season going 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA over his final 13 starts. This wasn’t a complete anomaly for Matz. At different points of his career, he’s shown this ability.
Matz was this good in 2015 through the first half of 2017. Again, he had a strong first half in 2018.
There’s a lot you can take away from this. It’s certainly possible injuries took their toll. Maybe, even to this point, he’s battling inconsistency. It’s also possible the Mets increasingly worse defense have had an impact on him. There’s many possible theories and explanations which can be proffered.
Lost in any of them is Matz is a good pitcher who has shown the ability to be a quality Major League starter. For a brief moment, it did appear as if 2020 was going to be the year he took his game to the next level.
During Spring Training, there were reports of his having increased velocity and being ahead of where he’s been in previous seasons.
The first thing Luis Rojas mentioned about Steven Matz's performance in Camp: his increased velocity.
Said he's been mid-to-upper 90s with really good velo differential on his curveball.
"I was pumped," Rojas said.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 21, 2020
The best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, was impressed with Matz before the 2020 started saying Matz was pitching “maybe the best I’ve seen him in a long time.” (William Bradford Davis, New York Daily News). He also said of Matz, “I think the upside’s unbelievable.”
That’s the real issue with Matz – the upside is there. It’s incumbent on them to unlock it.
Again, based on the free agent market, there’s not a definitive better option. Also, due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s stripping the Mets pitching depth for no good reason, there’s no one coming through the Mets pipeline to help in 2021.
That leaves keeping Matz as a necessity. They need to figure him out, or possibly, make him a left-handed Seth Lugo in the bullpen. With the state Van Wagenen will be leaving the Mets, that’s it.
Matz is a real asset. With Cohen, they’ll have the people and technology in place to help Matz take his game to the next level. With Sandy Alderson, they have the people in place who were able to help get consistent performances from Matz.
In the end, the Mets need Matz. They should be preparing to tender him a deal and set him up for his best season yet. If for no other reason, there’s really no better option available.
With the New York Mets signing Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha this offseason and purportedly promising them rotation spots, the Mets are in a position where they need to figure out how to make it work with six starting pitchers. Right now, the Mets are trying to figure things out, and there was a report in the New York Post that the Mets may keep all six pitchers in the rotation with Steven Matz and Wacha alternating who gets that start based upon match-ups.
While this is an intriguing strategy, there is an inherent problem. Looking at things from this perspective ignores how Matz is really the Mets fourth best starting pitcher. Take a look at the last two years.
Without going deeper, Matz has the best ERA and strikeout rate of the group. He also has the second best ERA+, FIP, and walk rate. Taking these and other stats into account, Matz has showed himself solidly as one of the five best starters on this team. When we delve a little deeper, his case is further solidified.
Last year, Matz (2.2 WAR) was at least doubly productive a pitcher than either Porcello (1.1 WAR) or Wacha (0.2 WAR) were. He was the only one with an ERA below 4.76, a WHIP lower than 1.394, a strikeout rate about 7.4, an ERA+ above 90, and he was the only pitcher with a complete game shutout.
Matz also was the only pitcher who did not allow over 10 hits per nine, and he yielded the best home run rate. Of the three pitchers, the only thing you could look at was Porcello pitching more innings. However, when you dig deeper, both Matz and Porcello averaged 5.1 innings per start.
There’s another important factor. While Porcello had the worst ERA in the American League last year, and Wacha was shut down with a shoulder injury, Matz figured something out last season which made him a much better pitcher.
After working with Phil Regan to move to the middle of the rubber, he was on a completely different level than either Porcello or Wacha.
In the 14 starts since that adjustment, Matz was 6-4 with a 3.52 ERA, 1.120 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, and a 2.6 BB/9. That July 16 start was his first start since coming back out of the bullpen, and he was limited to just four innings. Beginning with his July 21 start, Matz was 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.181 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, and a 2.6 BB/9 while averaging nearly six innings per start.
Right there is the reason you go with Matz, and that is before you consider he’s the only left-handed option in the rotation. He is the pitcher who has turned a corner in his career, and he is the pitcher who is really the best out of the three. Ultimately, when you break it all down, Matz is the Mets fourth best starter, and he is a good bet to improve off of his 2019 season.
The following people were mentioned: Curtis Granderson, J.D. Davis, Seth Lugo, Jake Marisnick, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeremy Hefner, Luis Rojas, Carlos Beltran, Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, Jeremy Accardo, Steven Matz, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Mo Vaughn, Jared Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, Rick Porcello, Jason Vargas, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Asdrubal Cabrera, Devin Mesoraco, and others.
If the Mets really want to flip the script and get people excited about this team, perhaps they should make a bold and daring decision when hiring a manager to replace Carlos Beltran.
With Baker and Showalter, you’re getting a manager who is a name which should drive up some excitement with Mets fans. They’re also established managers with a very good track record of success. More than that, they’re respected throughout the game.
Mostly, with Baker or Showalter, you get instant credibility. Of course, they’re also older managers, especially Baker, so they’re presumably very short term fixes. Although, Showalter could presumably be around longer.
In the end, if the Mets are going to go the route of a short-term fix who will excite the fanbase and give the team some instant credibility, why don’t they see if Davey Johnson would like to return to manage the Mets in 2020?
Johnson has the most wins as a manager in Mets history (595), and his .588 winning percentage remains the best all-time. To put into perspective of how dominant a run he and the Mets had in the 1980s, that winning percentage equates to a 95 win team, which unlike the 1980s all but ensures a postseason berth.
No, hiring Johnson doesn’t guarantee 95 wins. However, it speaks to what Johnson did with extremely talented Mets teams. The 2020 Mets could be one of those teams with Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and Noah Syndergaard.
Johnson is also no stranger to handling intense media scrutiny during a season. After all, he was the Mets manager when Keith Hernandez was dealing with the drug trials, and Dwight Gooden was suspended for cocaine.
No, Davey wasn’t perfect, but he was good. For his faults, he was a players manager who has always been open to using data and analytics to make the best decisions possible. As evidenced by Bryce Harper speaking well of him, even at his age, he’s been able to reach the modern player.
When you look at it, it’s Johnson’s age which could be the biggest impediment. Typically speaking, you don’t see many 76 year old managers, not unless they are team legends like Jack McKeon (Marlins).
However, as a short term fix, you’d be surprised if the Mets found Johnson’s age to be an impediment to his being a 1-2 year stopgap. After all, this is the same team who elevated 82 year old Phil Regan to be their interim pitching coach last year.
The real issue with Johnson’s age is whether at 76 he wants to manage again.
Back in 2014, after he was fired by the Nationals, he said, “If someone called me and said, ‘You wanna work?’ ” Johnson said, “I’d look at it and maybe take it. I might. It would have to be a big challenge.” (James Wagner, The Washington Post).
Recently, Johnson wrote a book entitled Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond, which at least sounded like a coda to his career in baseball. His interview with Mathew Brownstein of MMO also gave that impression.
Still, his co-author, Erik Sherman told The Hardball Times, “Yes, I think Davey would have liked to keep managing for a while longer. He still watches Nationals games on television whenever he can.”
We also saw Johnson not get elected into the Hall of Fame. While he says he doesn’t care that much about that, being passed over may still sting, and he may want to find his way into Cooperstown. One great year with the 2020 Mets could do that.
In the end, the Mets are in an almost impossible situation. They don’t have a manager with less than a month before Spring Training begins. Their credibility has taken yet another massive hit, and no matter who they hire, that new manager is going to face intense scrutiny and be a referendum on the front office.
Hiring a veteran manager could help insulate the Mets from criticism, and a veteran manager can handle some of the messaging and deflect some of the negativity. Ideally, that manager could create excitement for the fanbase.
If he wants the job, and the Mets are willing to go in that direction, Davey Johnson could be everything the Mets and their fans need and want from their manager. If nothing else, that should at least prompt a phone call.
November 1, 2015. That was the date of what was one of the greatest World Series starts we have seen from a Mets pitcher. Through eight innings, the Kansas City Royals had no chance against Matt Harvey. With the way he was pitching, you had to believe Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the 1927 Yankees, or Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and the Big Red Machine would have flailed much in the same way that Royals team had.
This start was the start Mets fans had waited for nearly a year-and-a-half. This was our reward for having our hearts broken when he would need Tommy John surgery late in 2013.
That 2013 season was as great as we have seen any Mets pitcher. To put it in perspective, by FIP, it was better than Dwight Gooden‘s 1985 Cy Young Award winning season, and it was better than all three of Tom Seaver‘s Cy Young Award seasons. That is just how great he was, and that is why he was the starting pitching for the All-Star Game at Citi Field that year.
While Harvey was very good in 2015, he was not quite that pitcher in 2015. That was not until Game of the 2015 World Series.
After working through the first three innings, he rediscovered something in the fourth. He struck out the side that inning, and he would strike out three of the four batters he faced in the fifth. Over those four innings, Alex Gordon (walk) and Ben Zobrist (single) were the only Royals to reach base.
When Harvey walked off that mound, we knew that was going to be the last time we ever saw him pitch at Citi Field that year. What we didn’t know was that was the last time we would see the real Harvey.
In 2016, something just wasn’t right with him. There was discussion it was his mechanics, but it wasn’t that. There were some who wondered if it was something in this private life. but it wasn’t that either. No, Harvey had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Even after his surgery, things were no better, and in 2018, he would be designated for assignment by the Mets before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Devin Mesoraco. In Cincinnati, there was hope he was figuring things out as he had a 4.50 ERA in 24 starts.
This year, he would sign with the Los Angeles Angles. After a 7.09 ERA over 12 starts, he was designated for assignment. Eventually, he would be released, and he wouldn’t latch on with anyone until he was reunited with Sandy Alderson when the Oakland Athletics gave him a minor league deal.
Now, Harvey is a free agent with a very uncertain future ahead of him. Maybe it would behoove him to rejoin the Mets. Certainly, it would help to once again work with people like Phil Regan. Then again, even if he returns to the Mets, Harvey will never return.
That Harvey has been long gone, and it is a real shame. However, no matter how far gone that pitcher is, nothing can take away the memories of just how great Harvey was in a Mets uniform. Nothing will take away the memories of moments like Game 5.
The Philadelphia Phillies did what we expected and hired Joe Girardi to replace Gabe Kapler. To their credit, the Phillies knew they wanted, nay needed, an experienced manager like Girardi, Buck Showalter, or Dusty Baker to take their team to the next level. They honed their search, and they hired who they deemed to be the best candidate.
What is interesting is Girardi was the one candidate the Phillies and New York Mets had in common. In 2017, that person was Mickey Callaway. That led the Mets to hire Callaway after just one interview to keep him away from the Phillies. The following offseason, the Mets would admit to including Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano deal to keep Edwin Diaz away from the Phillies.
However, when it came to Girardi, the Mets didn’t rise to the occasion. Rather, they let Girardi go to the Phillies leaving them with a group of managerial candidates without Major League managerial experience. Looking at it that way, you could say this was a managerial search which was Girardi or bust, and with Girardi going to the Phillies, the Mets search went bust.
While the Mets do deserve scorn for how they operate the team, the manager search did not go bust. In fact, there are a very intriguing candidates remaining.
Tim Bogar is a well respected coach and a three time Minor League Manager of the Year. He has experience as a first base, third base, and bench coach. He has spent time in the front office on the player development side. Also, in 2014, he took over as interim manager of the Texas Rangers after Ron Washington resigned due to personal issues. Bogar would led the Rangers to a 14-8 record in those game.
With his work on Baseball Tonight, MLB Radio, and other media ventures, Eduardo Perez is a media savvy individual, which is something all managers, especially the Mets manager need. That said, Perez is much more than that having been a minor league and Winter League manager as well as a former Major League bench coach. With his working on the “Nerdcasts,” we are well aware he is well versed in analytics.
Another interesting factor with Perez is the Mets seem to want to keep some of their current coaches on the Major League coaching staff. To that end, Perez is a former teammate of both Chili Davis (hitting coach) and Gary Disarcina (third base and infield coach).
On that point, Luis Rojas has worked extensively with Phil Regan both this year’s team as well as the minors. Speaking of the minors, Rojas has managed most of this current Mets team including Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and others. They speak highly of him, and the team thinks so highly of him they created the Quality Control position for him. In that position, Rojas was entasked with handling communications between the front office and players on expectations and how to utilize data. To that end, there is perhaps no one better prepared to understand what the front office expects and wants from their manager.
In terms of relationship with the front office, perhaps no one would have a better relationship than Carlos Beltran. Beltran is close with both Assistant General Managers Allard Baird and Omar Minaya. There’s also his close relationship with David Wright which began in Beltran’s first Spring Training with the Mets when he took Wright and Jose Reyes under his wing to show them how to prepare for the season.
Sure, he has had his clashes with ownership, especially when he opted to have knee surgery prior to the 2010 season. However, that does speak to an asset Beltran has. Over the years, the Mets have been criticized for their handling of injuries. Who better than Beltran to help protect the players from themselves and the team?
Finally, there is Twins Coach Derek Shelton. He has a wealth of experience including his being a hitting, quality control, and hitting coach. In those roles, he has worked for analytically forward organizations while also working for different types of managers like Joe Maddon, Eric Wedge, John Gibbons, and Rocco Baldelli.
Overall, you could make the case any one of these five candidates would make an excellent manager for the Mets. While you are free to question the wisdom of the Mets exiting the Mickey Callaway era by going to another first time manager, especially when Girardi apparently wanted the Mets job, that does not mean these candidates could not be better than Callaway. In fact, it’s very possible each one of these candidates could ultimately prove to be better than even Girardi.
This past week the New York Mets could not bring themselves to trust Donnie Hart or Chris Mazza to close out a five run ninth inning lead against the worst team in the National League. There were two opportunities to use them, and the Mets passed each time. More than anything, this was a sign the Mets were 1-2 arms short in the bullpen and something needed to be done.
Yes, Brach has walked an inordinate amount of batters this year. Part of that is the fact Willson Contreras has been one of the wort pitch framers in all of baseball with a -8.5 FRAA. This follows a year in which he was a -15.4 FRAA. Yes, Wilson Ramos has been bad behind the dish, but his -7.1 FRAA is still an improvement. With Ramos being better and Tomas Nido being a good framer, Brach will be getting some help on that front.
More than the walks, Brach still has the ability to get batters out. He has struck out 10.6 per nine which is is best mark since his 2016 All Star season. As noted by Baseball Savant, there are issues like barrels and exit velocity, but there are other factors like his fastball velocity and spin rate which provide hope.
On the hope front, it should be noted Brach had a very similar season last year with his struggling with the Orioles. He was moved to the Braves as the trade deadline, and he turned things back on after the trade. In his 27 games for the Braves, he was 1-2 with a 1.52 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, and an 8.4 K/9.
Overall, by career ERA, August has historically Brach’s second best month of the season. If that proves true, and his career worst .375 BABIP stabilize (.291 career BABIP), things are really looking up for Brach, and that is before he gets to make adjustments working with Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, and Ricky Bones.
At a minimum, Brach is another arm to the equation, and he is likely one who will be used unlike Mazza, who is still on the roster, or Hart, who was optioned to Syracuse. Unlike those other two relievers, Brach has Major League success, and with that comes some hope for upside.
Now, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Panik has not been good this year. In fact, this is the worst season of his career by any measure. He has a career worst batting average, SLG, OPS, OPS+, wRC+, and WAR. With his having a -0.4 WAR and a 69 wRC+, you can understand the Giants trading for Scooter Gennett and releasing Panik.
Even with Panik not being good enough for a Giants team who held onto Madison Bumgarner with the hopes of getting a Wild Card spot in Bruce Bochy‘s last season, it does not mean Panik is not an upgrade over what the Mets currently have.
The Mets current second base options are worse than Panik at the plate. Adeiny Hechavarria (62 wRC+) and Luis Guillorme (2 wRC+) have been worse at the plate. You could argue putting Jeff McNeil at second base is a better move, but Juan Lagares (40 wRC+) and Aaron Altherr (-33 wRC+) are probably even worse options than Hechavarria, Guillorme, or Panik.
Arguably, you get more defense at second with Hechavarria (1 DRS) and Guillorme (1 DRS), but Panik is no slouch. He is a former Gold Glove winner, and he has a 0 DRS. Ultimately, when you take the combination of the defense and the bat, Panik is a steadier presence at second.
It should also be noted like with Brach, Panik is historically very good in August with his career triple slash line being better in August than any other month. While it has been just five games, that has proven true so far this year. Overall, Panik finishes seasons well, and the Mets need someone who can finish this season well at second to help propel them into the postseason.
Ultimately, bringing Brach and Panik back home on the roster makes the Mets a significantly improved team. That’s the case even with Brach and Panik not being very good players this year. In some ways, you can treat this as an indictment of the Mets. However, it’s not about that. Right now, the only thing we should care about is the Mets improving. With Brach and Panik, the Mets are improved. With them being improved, they’re in a better position to make the postseason.
For most the season, the Mets have been cycling through relievers trying to find the right fit for the last spot in the bullpen. Their inability to find the right fit has cost them a few games in what has been a very critical stretch of the season.
Chris Mazza couldn’t hold down a lead in San Francisco. Tyler Bashlor put a winnable game out of reach in Pittsburgh. That’s just two recent games, and there are countless others. As a result of different relievers failing, the Mets continue to cycle through them trying to find the right fit. Part of this process is the Mets having traded away Wilmer Font and releasing Hector Santiago. The team has also designated five different relievers for assignment. Still, there are some interesting options available.
Chris Flexen has made the transition to the bullpen this year after having struggled as a starter. In his brief five game stint as a pure reliever in the Mets bullpen, Flexen allowed two runs on four hits in 6.1 innings pitched. After one poor outing against the Braves, he was sent back down to Triple-A.
Since being sent down to Syracuse, Flexen has had a 6.94 ERA in 11 appearances, but six of those appearances were scoreless. Perhaps more important that the results is Flexen’s control. The pitcher who has always had issues with control threw 68 percent of his pitches for strikes resulting in his striking out struck out 12 (9.2 K/9) with just one walk in 11.2 inning pitched. If Flexen is able to sustain this level of control, he could be a real improvement in the bullpen.
Looking deeper at the 40 man roster, Eric Hanhold has had a 1.47 ERA since June 20. Over that stretch, he is 2-0 with two saves, and he is holding opposing batters to a .203/.282/.313 batting line. This recent run led to his being promoted again to Triple-A Syracuse. His second stint in Syracuse is going better than his first with him allowing just one earned over 4.0 innings.
In terms of his stuff, Matt Eddy of Baseball America said Hanhold “has a potent power fastball-slider mix that could play in a high-leverage role.” For Hanhold, he doesn’t need to be that yet. Rather, the Mets just need another reliable arm, and he certainly has the stuff to fulfill that role.
Like Flexen and Hanhold, Brooks Pounders has had success for the Mets at the Major League level. In his seven appearances for the Mets in June, he was 1-0 with a 6.14 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and a 6.1 K/9. Looking deeper into those appearances, Pounders had six scoreless appearances.
His lone blow-up was his June 24 appearance against the Phillies. Notably, four of the five runs he allowed was in his second inning of work. Part of the focus on that appearance should include his rebounding three days later against the same Phillies team with a scoreless appearance. Looking at that, you could make the argument he should be recalled now. The argument against that is his struggles in Syracuse once he was sent down. In 10 appearances since his demotion, he has a 7.82 ERA allowing batters to hit .310/.410/.528 off of him.
Looking beyond the 40 man roster, there are some choices, but each of those options has their own limitations. The Mets are also further hampered by the fact Ryley Gilliam is on the injured list since July 12.
Perhaps the top option from players not on the 40 man roster is Paul Sewald. Sewald was on the 40 man roster earlier this year, and he pitched well in his four appearances in the Majors this year. In his 38 appearances for Syracuse, Sewald is 3-3 with a 3.61 ERA, 1.437 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and an 8.7 K/9. Overall, in terms of Sewald, he is not the most exciting of choices. However, it should be noted he has shown a knack at the Major League level to be a good long man who can both eat up innings and keep the Mets in games. Given the other Mets relievers failures on that front, Sewald’s ability should not be discounted.
The other reliever not on the 40 man roster who stands out is Steve Villines. This year, Villines has dominated Double-A with a 1.11 ERA in 22 appearances. However, he has struggled in Triple-A Syracuse with a 6.75 ERA, 1.938 WHIP, and a 1.50 K/BB in 13 appearances.
Two things to keep in mind with Villines. First, the sidewinder has fared well against right-handed batters limiting them to a .245/.286/.309 batting line. However, he has struggled against left-handed batters with them hitting .253/.371/.437 batting line. With those splits, you could see the Mets benefiting from pairing him with Luis Avilan much like the 2006 Mets did with Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano.
The one caution the Mets should have with Villines is his walk rate has increased and strikeout rate has decreased as he has progressed to each level of the minors. With the aforementioned 1.50 K/BB in Syracuse, it should give the Mets pause before promoting him to the Majors in the middle of a chase for the Wild Card.
Overall, it would appear the Mets best options at the moment are Flexen or Hanhold. That is at least the case while Jacob Rhame is on the Injured List. In the end, it may just be the case the Mets need to actually pick a reliever and let them work closely with Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, and Ricky Bones to figure things out at the Major League level to permit them an opportunity improve and contribute at the Major League level.
While the Mets did not make a trade to improve their bullpen at the trade deadline, they did improve the bullpen by adding Marcus Stroman. Much like in 2015, the Mets are relying upon their starters going deep into games thereby requiring less from their bullpen. When that happens, a bullpen which only needs to use pitchers like Seth Lugo, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, and Robert Gsellman suddenly looks very good.
Then, there is Friday night in Pittsburgh. With Steven Matz only lasting 3.2 innings, the Mets had to go to the part of the bullpen they have not had to in a while. It eventually caught up with the Mets with Tyler Bashlor allowing three earned over 1.1 innings putting a winnable game out of reach.
With the Mets cycling through relievers like Bashlor, Jacob Rhame (10 day IL), Chris Mazza, Stephen Nogosek, and others, it is clear the team is at least a bullpen arm short, and they are attempting to cycle through these pitchers until one sticks. So far, that hasn’t happened, and it is time for the Mets to make a real move. There are some free agent options available.
Brad Brach was recently designated for assignment by the Chicago Cubs in a season where he has gone 4-3, 6.13 ERA, 1.765 WHIP, 6.4 BB/9, and a 10.2 K/9. After seeing his ERA jump in each of the two seasons since his 2016 All-Star season, Brach has put up a career worst 6.13 ERA and a 6.4 BB/9. Beyond the walk rate, opponents have been hitting the ball harder against him, and as a result, he has a high .375 BABIP.
Conversely, he also has the best K/9 since 2016 and the best K% since 2017. Baseball Savant indicates he is above league average in fastball velocity, K%, and xSLB. All told, he still has Major League talent. With Phil Regan and Mickey Callaway, it would be well worth signing a pitcher the Mets have actively pursued over the past few seasons.
Another veteran pitcher who is available as a free agent is Cody Allen. Allen is available because the Los Angeles Angles released him on June 18, and he was released by the Minnesota Twins on July 31 after pitching to a 3.38 ERA with a 1.500 WHIP and 1.40 K/BB for Triple-A Rochester.
The season had gotten off to a good start with Allen converting four save chances to begin the season. Since that time, he has an 8.10 ERA in the Majors. One of the possible reasons for his struggles is his losing fastball velocity. Another reason may be his over reliance on the curveball. While it has been a good pitch for him, he has thrown it with much more frequency with worse results. To be fair, the same can be said for his fastball. Ultimately, with Allen, this is now two straight down years for him, and really, this could just be a sign he is no longer the same pitcher he was for Cleveland.
The hope with Allen is reuniting with Callaway would pay off dividends. Similarly, there may be hope an Addison Reed return to New York would work out well for both sides.
Reed was released by the Twins before throwing a pitch for the team this year. In total, he only made five appearances for Triple-A Rochester during a rehab assignment for a left (non-pitching) thumb sprain. He was shelled over those five appearances allowing eight runs over 5.0 innings. Since being released on May 21, he has not signed with another team.
With Reed, he had not been the same pitcher with the Twins than he was with the Mets. There are a number of reasons including his losing about two MPH off of his fastball making him more hittable. Given the state of the Mets bullpen and depth, it may be well worth bringing him back to the organization on a minor league deal and seeing how he performs in Syracuse.
In the end, the Mets external options are extremely limited. Given how the internal options have performed, it may be well worth claiming Brach and having him work with Callaway and Regan. With his strikeout rate, he could well be worth a flyer. The same can be said with Reed on a minor league deal. Overall, with the performances from the pitchers the Mets are willing to pitch, these players present not just a current upgrade, but also more upside than what we’ve seen.