Turk Wendell wasn’t the best reliever on the 2000 New York Mets, but he was still tremendously important in helping the team lock up victories.
In the year 2000, the New York Mets overcame a decline on offense from the season prior thanks in large part to their starting pitching. Whenever I look back at the 2000 season and compare it to 1999, it’s the starting pitching where I see the best positive difference.
The bullpen is a different story. The team’s most five most regular relievers had varied ERAs with Armando Benitez at the lowest with a 2.61 ERA and Pat Mahomes at the highest at 5.46. Dennis Cook also had a rather high ERA at 5.34 with John Franco finishing the year closer to Benitez’s at 3.40.
Right smack in the middle of this crew, we find Turk Wendell. Best known for his unorthodox personality, Wendell turned in a solid year for the 2000 Mets highlighted by 8 wins in relief and a 3.59 ERA.
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Wendell was more than those two numbers. He made 77 appearances on the mound—the most of any pitcher on the team. His 82.2 relief innings also bested everyone with Mahomes getting a portion of his 94 as a starter.
As far as flashiness goes, Wendell didn’t have the kind of numbers that jump out. He didn’t have the strikeout numbers of a closer. In fact, unless you view him together with the rest of the roster, you might not think he was all that good in this particular season.
On a team with a rather shallow bullpen, though, Wendell was a guy Bobby Valentine could call upon in nearly half of the team’s games. It was a luxury one year prior when in 1999 Wendell pitched in 80 games. His ERA that season was even lower at 3.05.
Availability was one of Wendell’s greatest abilities. He was often prepared for any game, including the 2000 postseason.
Wendell pitched in two games during each round of the playoffs. He won Game Two against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Unfortunately, he was also the loser in Game One of the World Series versus the New York Yankees.
The 2000 season ended up as Wendell’s last full season with the Mets. In his four and a half seasons, he pitched in 285 games across 312.2 innings while going 22-14 with a 3.34 ERA. He was an above-average reliever in a period of baseball when home runs ruled the diamond.
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Not great but certainly good, Wendell was able to provide the Mets with some much-needed relief.