Phil Bickford Should Be Mets Closer
Adam Ottavino didn’t have it. That’s no surprise with him having a 7.36 ERA on no days rest. Opposing batters are hitting .276/.400/.690 against him.
Now, that should’ve been reason enough for Buck Showalter to use Ottavino to save a two run lead. However, to be fair here, it’s not like the Mets really have a plethora of options. In fact, you could argue they’re complete devoid of options.
Seiya Suzuki hit a lead-off homer. Jeimer Candelario walked, and he went to second on a balk when Ottavino forgot how many times he threw over. After Mike Tauchman walked, Showalter went to Phil Bickford.
In a trade deadline where the Mets sold heavy, they obtained Bickford and Adam Kolarek from the Los Angeles Dodgers. The reason is the Mets needed arms, and the Dodgers were parting with relievers having poor seasons.
Bickford had a 5.14 ERA over 36 appearances with the Dodgers. He had an 86 ERA+ and 4.39 FIP despite a strong 10.3 K/9. The reason is he was walking too many batters.
His brief Mets tenure hasn’t been much better. He’s allowed at least a run in three of four appearances.
The worst of it was his allowing three earned in 1/3 of an inning against the Baltimore Orioles. Even with that, there’s some promise with Bickford.
Per Baseball Savant, he generates a high spin on his fastball. With his fastball excellent extension, he has a high whiff and strikeout rate. The issue is location with his high walk rate and how hard he’s been hit this season.
We’ve seen it implode, but against the Chicago Cubs, we saw how effective he could be.
He came into a very difficult spot. Two on, no outs, Mets up by one. After a Nick Madrigal sac bunt, the tying run was 90 feet away with the go-ahead run in scoring position.
He then settled in, and he showed how he can over power batters. It started by striking out Christopher Morel.
He was careful to Nico Hoerner issuing a walk. With Hoerner having good numbers against Bickford, it was the right move.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Bickford struck out Ian Happ to end the game. Neither Morel nor Happ had a chance.
With that, Bickford earned another opportunity. Another one after that. Mets can play it out from there.
Edwin Díaz is still on the IL even if he’s pushing to return. Bickford is under team control next year and not arbitration eligible until after 2024.
Bickford is in his prime. He had a great 2021 season, and he’s a few tweaks from getting back to that point. On a night where he dominated to earn his second career save, you think Jeremy Hefner fixed him.
Maybe not. Who knows? All we do know at this point is Bickford came into a big spot and earned a save. That’s something to build on at a time the Mets are looking for pieces for 2024.
Put Bickford in the closer role. See how he fares. See if you found another late inning option for next year.