Rising Apple’s Year in Review series takes a look at yet another reliever that had a significant role with the team before he was lost for the remainder of the season due to injury. Tim Byrdak signed a one year deal last year to come back for his second season with the Mets, but almost wasn’t active on the MLB roster for Opening Day because of knee surgery. However, he recovered in time and was a bit of a jack of all trades before he tore his shoulder capsule, being used in multiple roles out of the bullpen.
How He Did on the Mound
Coming out of Spring Training, Byrdak was the only lefty in the bullpen for Terry Collins, so when it came to which point in the game he would be used, the Mets skipper had to be wary of not using him too early. He proved to be very useful in multiple respects, being utilized as a lefty specialist, then being asked to get both lefties and righties out in certain situations. When the backend of the bullpen that was Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco started to wilt, he also assumed eighth inning duties. Up until he was put on the disabled list in the beginning of August, he was among the league leaders in appearances, being called upon 56 times, pitching 30.2 innings and compiling a 2-2 record with a 4.40 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.
His season ERA is inflated because of a tough July, when he appeared in 15 games and threw 9.2 innings. It was by far his worst month of the season, as he put together a 7.45 ERA and 1.66 WHIP and allowed 8 hits and 8 walks, which led to 8 earned runs. Outside of that, he had a spectacular season for the Mets, and was flying high into the All-Star break with a 2-0 record and 3.57 ERA in 43 appearances. As expected, he was extra tough on lefties, holding them to a .154 batting average in 21.2 IP.
Josh Edgin did eventually prove his worth as being an extra southpaw with Byrdak in the ‘pen, but the overuse of the 38-year-old lefty finally got to him, and he went down in August with a torn left shoulder capsule, ending his season. He opted to get the surgery, as he would need to recover anyway to simply play catch. Down the stretch, Terry Collins admitted he may have misused Byrdak in certain situations, and it definitely came back to bite them in the behind.
Just as important as his performance on the field, Byrdak joined Justin Turner as one of the pranksters on the squad off the field. It started in Spring Training when he dressed up like Hulk Hogan, to his biggest joke during the season, bringing in a live chicken, Little Jerry Seinfield, after Francisco told the media the Yankees were “chickens.” That moment was the best because he brought comedy to an otherwise annoying situation.
Areas to Improve Upon
Well, I would say the biggest area to improve upon is to get healthy. Byrdak went under the knife in the beginning of September, and judging by the amount of time it took Chris Young and Johan Santana to recover from the same surgery, he’s looking at about a year-long recovery process.
Projected Role for 2013
The earliest anyone could project Byrdak to be healthy enough to get on a mound again is next August, so he doesn’t figure to have a role in 2013 with the Mets, as he will most likely be on the shelf for the season. I’m sure Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson would love to have him back, but it’s not in the cards for this year.
Contract Status and Trade Rumors
As I said before, Byrdak is coming off a one-year/$1 million contract he signed with the Mets toward the end of the 2011 season, and will officially become a free agent at the conclusion of the World Series. However, since he will be out for the majority (if not all) of the season, he will stay unsigned going into next season. Byrdak said he plans on trying to catch on with a Major League team again once he’s healthy. He’ll be celebrating his 39th birthday on Halloween, so hopefully the next year of rest will give him enough energy to bring in the noise and bring in the funk as a 40-year-old reliever.