2011 Season In Review: Tim Byrdak

By Unknown author

The New York Mets as a whole went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an on-going series, will analysis every single Mets player that picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at left-handed reliever, Tim Byrdak.

When Pedro Feliciano moved to a different borough last off-season, there was a gaping hole in the bullpen.  With virtually no internal options, the Mets went out and signed Tim Byrdak to a one year, minor league contract worth $900 K.  The idea was that Byrdak would serve as the team’s LOOGY, or lefty one-out guy, and as it turned out, he was the only southpaw in the bullpen for the vast majority of the season.

On the surface, Byrdak’s numbers look pretty mediocre.  In 72 appearances, the 37 year old lefty tossed 37.2 innings, posting a 3.82 ERA (3.39 xFIP), 1.407 WHIP, 11.2 K/9 and 2.47 K/BB (the K/9 and K/BB were actually the best numbers of his career in years in which he pitched more than ten innings).  However, those numbers are partially inflated due to Byrdak’s appearances against right-handers.  When called upon to do his job, Byrdak thrived.

In 110 plate appearances against Byrdak, lefties hit just .222/.271/.333 with two homers, while walking just six times and striking out 36.  Righties performed better, hitting .279/.439/.419 with one homer, 13 walks and 11 strikeouts in 58 plate appearances.  Byrdak also did well when entering the game with runners on, allowing 16 of 67 inherited runners to score, a 27% clip.

Basically a two-pitch pitcher, Byrdak had the most success with his fastball, according to FanGraphs.  The southpaw’s heater was worth 1.35 runs above average per 100 pitches, the only time that this pitch had a positive value.  Perhaps surprisingly, he threw the pitch 42.9% of the time, often preferring his slider, which he thew 49.6% of the time (the slider, usually far and away his most valuable pitch, was worth just 0.37 runs above average per 100 pitches).  Byrdak’s changeup, thrown just 7.5% of the time, was worth 2.53 runs below average per 100 pitches, helping to explain his lack of success against the right handers.

Arguably the highlight of Byrdak’s season came during the Mets trip to Cincinnati.  The lefty recorded only two outs in two appearances, but they were both very important.  On July 25th, Byrdak struck out Jay Bruce, who represented the tying run at the plate, on three pitches.  For Byrdak, this out was huge because Bruce had hit a walkoff homer the prior September to clinch the National League Central title for the Reds.  The next night, Byrdak again faced Bruce, who again represented the tying run at the plate, this time with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.  It took six pitches, but Byrdak got Bruce swinging again to record his fourth career save, all with different teams.

In late September, the Mets agreed to a one year extension with Byrdak, Barring unforeseen circumstances, he to his lefty specialist role in 2012.  While the team could use an additional lefty for the entire season, Byrdak earned his new contract and, when used properly, proved he could still be effective.