Once a member of the New York Mets minor league system, relief pitcher John Gant has turned into a valuable relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.
When the New York Mets acquired Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe from the Atlanta Braves in 2015, the trade seemed to include nothing more than two veterans swapping uniforms with a pair of “could be” minor leaguers. Well, flash forward to 2019, one of those farmhands has turned into a special relief pitcher.
Partially luck, Gant has somehow managed to win 10 games out of the bullpen for the Cardinals in 2019. Perhaps even more noteworthy, he hasn’t been issued a loss.
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Gant’s overall numbers aren’t quite as impressive as his record. However, in a year where we saw plenty of bullpens crumble, a sub-3.00 ERA on the year through over 60 innings is nothing to overlook.
During Gant’s time in the Mets minor league system, he worked as a starting pitcher. After a slow start in Rookie Ball, Gant put together back-to-back good ones in 2013 and 2014. He also finished 2015 with some high marks.
The 2019 season has been Gant’s first as a full-time reliever. Fortunately for him and the Cardinals, the transition has worked flawlessly.
In the past, Gant’s odd delivery to the plate was the only thing about him catching headlines. Now with a thicker resume, his performance on the mound is what more people are talking about.
Originally drafted in the 21st round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Gant is one of those underdog MLB stories. In many ways, he reminds me of Seth Lugo. His unconventional path toward major league success is a reminder that any player can develop into a key piece on the roster.
As nice as it would be to have Gant on the current Mets roster, I would be Captain Hindsight if I declared it a mistake to trade him back in 2015. Johnson and Uribe were valuable chips for the team’s playoff run. What’s more, one good year led by an inexplicable amount of wins as a relief pitcher hardly secures a player’s spot in Cooperstown.
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