For days, the Mets have been rumored to make a move for a reliever or two. Jon Rauch became the first new bullpen arm. The 33 year-old right-hander posted a mediocre 4.85 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 2.57 K/BB in 52 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays last season, but also saved 11 games.
It’s unlikely Rauch will be given the closing gig (as the Mets later signed Frank Francisco), but the tall reliever has the very late-inning experience the Mets crave. Rauch saved a career-high 21 games for the Minnesota Twins in 2010, hurling a 3.12 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 3.29 K/BB. He also closed-out 18 games in 2008, and another 8 games scattered across 2006, 2007, and 2009.
While it’s possible Rauch’s struggles in 2011 had to do with his hitter-heavy division, many of the righty’s statistics don’t exactly illustrate his ability as a supposed late-inning option. Rauch posted his worst career ERA (4.85), K/9 (6.23), HR/9 (1.90), HR/FB (12.9%), FIP (5.26), and Contract% (85.3%). Interestingly enough, his .276 BABIP and 4.56 xFIP were essentially on-par with his career averages (.279 BABIP and 4.37 xFIP).
In the grand scheme of things, inking a rather consistent reliever like Rauch to a one-year, $3.5 million deal isn’t a bad move, but it’s hardly an exciting one. One has to hope that a move to the National League will help the soft-tossing giant, and that his extremely hittable 2011 self was just an aberration.