There’s little middle ground for one of the newest New York Mets, Bobby Wahl. He’ll either pitch really well or let walks get the best of him.
One of the newest members of the New York Mets organization, Bobby Wahl, should have plenty of chances to pitch for the big league team this season. The 26-year-old pitched in seven games for the Oakland Athletics last season with mediocre results.
This year, the Mets must see what he can do for them. It’s time he sinks or swims in Flushing.
Personally, I don’t have high expectations for Wahl. Yes, he throws hard. And sure, he’s striking out AAA batters like crazy. Until he does it at the MLB level, I’m going to have my doubts.
Wahl is a guy the Mets are hoping can step into their bullpen rather quickly. Desperate for someone to help stop the bleeding, the Mets decided to acquire him in the Jeurys Familia trade rather than another lower level prospect. In some ways, it was a wise decision. He can fight for a relief spot immediately. If he’s lucky, he’s setting up games for them next year.
While with Oakland’s AAA team this season, Wahl posted a 2.27 ERA over 39.2 frames. He struck out an astonishing 65 batters while allowing just 17 hits.
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Like many hard-throwers, he has one weakness. Wahl walks a lot of guys. This year’s rate of 3.9 per nine is high. It’s also one of the lowest he has posted in his professional career.
In fact, Wahl didn’t pitch well at all in his first three professional seasons. From 2013-2015, he finished with ERAs over 4.00. He has lowered it during his past three minor league seasons with a career-best currently intact this year.
Numbers are often the best way to judge a player we have never seen pick up a baseball. Based on this, Wahl looks pretty good. My hesitation to trust him comes from other factors.
I don’t like a comparison to Jacob deGrom who also made his MLB debut later in his 20s. deGrom was a starter. Wahl has made only a handful of them in his career. He’ll almost definitely never start a game in the major leagues unless he somehow ends up on the Tampa Bay Rays as an opener.
Learning to master his control will become a challenge for Wahl. Although he lowered his ERA in 2016 and 2017, he walked more than 4.5 batters per nine in each season. This is a high number even with an abundance of strikeouts. I’m not so sure he ever will find the plate at a consistent rate.
I’ll wait to pass full judgment on Wahl until he actually pitches a game for the Mets. Seeing how needy they are for the rest of 2018, we should have a much better clue as to what he can and cannot deliver.
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I’m hoping it’s a ton of strikeouts and fewer walks than he is accustomed to.