Well, this was about a month overdue, but it’s better late than never I suppose. It looks like the three run bomb that Manny Acosta gave up to Ty Wigginton in the top of the ninth inning of the Mets 8-4 Memorial Day loss to the Phillies was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Terry Collins and New York management. Most fans and blogs have been calling for Acosta to be sent down for quite some time, and his presence on the roster until this point has been making everyone scratch their heads until MLB Trade Rumors broke the news last night about his status with the team.
Acosta’s stuff has never been in question; he has a great arm with a fastball that can climb into the mid-90s on the radar gun. However, we all know that no matter how great an arm is, a pitcher still needs to use strategy to get Major League hitters out on a consistent
basis; he can’t just throw it. Just how bad has the Mets reliever been this year? Well, as if his 11.86 ERA and 2.27 WHIP aren’t enough, there are plenty more disturbing stats that makes us wonder why Sandy Alderson took so long to send Acosta packing.
After spending parts of three seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Acosta came over to the Mets and had been a solid reliever; combining his 2010 and 2011 seasons, Acosta compiled a 7-3 record with a 3.20 ERA, and 1.30 WHIP in 85 appearances. Not bad, right? Well, something happened to this once relevant 31-year-old reliever, because things went absolutely haywire during his 19 appearances and 22 innings in 2012. He was still able to strike out hitters at a high rate (9.41 K/9), but he just hasn’t been able to put the ball over the plate; Acosta has handed out 15 free passes so far this season and his 6.14 BB/9 is easily the worst ratio it’s been in his career. When he does get the ball over the plate, it gets smashed by the opposition. He’s already surrendered 6 home runs this season, which matches last year’s total, and he’s currently giving up the gopher ball at a 2.45/9 IP rate. Convinced yet? Wait, there’s more.
As a reliever, pitchers will consistently come into situations in the middle of an inning where runners are already on base and the manager is looking to them to strand the potential runs from scoring. Historically, Acosta has been able to leave inherited runners on base at around a 75-80% rate. So far in 2012, he’s left runners on base only 43.6% of the time. When hitters put the ball in play, they’re hitting at a .414 clip; so if they make contact, it’s normally on a line somewhere. His overall opp BA is .361, up significantly from his two years prior (.220 in 2010 and .269 in 2011).
In a bullpen that has had it’s ups and downs throughout the first two months of the season, you would think that Alderson would make sure that the most effective and deserving pitchers stayed up at the Major League level. For instance, D.J. Carrasco had two ineffective outings before he was sent down to the minors and eventually released. Obviously, hitting Ryan Braun with a pitch may have also been one of the main drivers in his outright release, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that he wasn’t doing his job, and management made the moves necessary to bring someone up that would.
I wonder how much Alderson listened to Collins and Dan Warthen about Acosta and his poor performances. According to his career norms, he would figure it out. It just made sense; there was no way a pitcher would be as bad as he was for very long. Well, Alderson’s patience will officially run out today, as Acosta will be sent down “barring anything unforseen.” I was sold about his demotion about a month ago because this team plays in too many close games for one of the first relievers out of the ‘pen to be that bad. When I saw that 89 mph batting practice fastball get tossed down Broadway yesterday to Ty Wigginton, that was the last straw for me, and I knew that he wouldn’t be in uniform tonight. At least, I was really hoping he wouldn’t be.