Our Year in Review series continues as we take a look at how Jon Rauch contributed to the Mets’ bullpen in 2012. After spending the 2011 season with fellow Mets’ teammate, Frank Francisco in Toronto, both pitchers were bought in during the off-season to shore up the back end of the bullpen. It was expected that Rauch was going to serve as the Mets’ set-up man in the eighth inning, while Francisco close out games in the ninth inning. However, things didn’t go as smoothly for the Mets with regards to the additions Alderson bought in.
Performance on the mound:
Francisco struggled big time in his first season with the Mets and Rauch’s performance on the mound varied, as we saw flashes of a pitcher struggle in the first half of the season, while having a strong, successful second half of the season. After starting off the season strong, posting a 2.53 ERA in his first 12 appearances during the month of April, Rauch went on to labor through ineffectiveness the next two months of the season, as he accumulated a 5.56 ERA in May and a 4.50 ERA in June. Despite the struggles, Rauch went on to have an impressive second half of the season, pitching to a 1.05 ERA from the months of July and August combined. Being that Rauch’s 2012 performance was on both ends of the spectrum, it should be heavily noted that injuries could have played a role in Rauch’s struggles this season, as he dealt with elbow and knee issues for a majority of the season.
In June, it was noted that Rauch had debris in his throwing elbow, and as a result ended up missing a short period of time before returning to the mound. Nearly one month later, Rauch had both of his knees drained. Injuries is a topic Rauch is very familiar with, as he struggled though knee problems during his lone season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Unfortunately, Rauch was unable to continue his effectiveness on the mound as the season winded down with a 6.00 ERA in the month of September. We know how effective Rauch can be, but we must take into consideration his injury history that ties in with his struggles, more often than none.
Projected Role/Contract Status for 2013:
Rauch signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal in December, 2011 and is expected to be a free-agent at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Because of the ineffectiveness of the bullpen as a whole and the fact that Rauch struggled on and off the mound with injuries, I don’t expect to see Rauch wearing a Mets uniform in 2013. Alderson publicly acknowledges that his attempt to revamp the bullpen during last season’s off-season has failed beyond expectations, therefore, I do expect to see a handful of new relievers in the Mets’ 2013 bullpen. That being said, I don’t expect any of the new relievers Alderson will bring in during the off-season to be marquee names, as I expect Alderson to attract the low-risk, high reward type players coming off a down 2012 campaign, because of the limited payroll constraints and multiple holes on this current roster.