Last season, Tim Byrdak was regularly facing two and three batters per appearance for the Mets. He appeared in 72 games for the Amazins, putting together a 2-1 record and 3.82 ERA in 37.2 innings. His performance earned him another one-year contract to stay in the New York bullpen, and boy is Terry Collins happy he’s still around. Byrdak’s role has changed this year; entering the season as the bullpen’s only left-handed pitcher before the promotion of Robert Carson, his job is to be the left-handed specialist late in the game; so far, he’s been doing a spectacular job.
Of the Mets’ first 44 games in 2012, Byrdak has appeared in 26 of them, just a staggering statistic that not only leads the staff, but leads all of Major League Baseball. However, Terry Collins considers his lefty rather fresh, as he’s only recorded 12.1 innings in those 26 games. The 38-year-old has never appeared in more than 76 games in one season, but if he continues with his current role, he won’t be anywhere close to approaching his career-high of 61.1 innings pitched this year, something that he accomplishing with the Astros in 2009.
If Byrdak continues on the current pace that Collins has set for his reliever, he would break Pedro Feliciano‘s club record of 92
appearances in 2010. He also transformed himself into a situational lefty and led MLB in appearances three years in a row (266 appearances from ’08-’10) before signing with the Yankees. Oh, and he hasn’t appeared in a game for the Bronx Bombers yet. Brydak is currently on pace for 98 appearances this year, which would put him second on the all-time MLB list for appearances in a season, behind Mike Marshall, who took the mound in 106 different games in 1974 for the Dodgers.
For his last 12 appearances, Byrdak’s assignment has been for only one batter, and he’s retired that batter every time. So far, the Mets’ lefty is 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA, 18 strikeouts, and a very impressive 0.73 WHIP in his 12.1 innings. Collins believes that he can go to Tim on a daily basis not only because he faces one batter a night, but because he knows how to warm up in the ‘pen before he enters the game; pitches aren’t wasted and he knows exactly what he needs to do to get himself ready for his match-up. He can do that thanks to 11 years in Major League Baseball; he’s appeared in 441 games in his career, so he’s done this enough where he knows how his body works and what his limitations are. At age 38, hopefully Collins will be able to give him some days off here and there so he can be fresh as we get closer to the second half of the year.