The New York Mets are taking a chance on Arodys Vizcaino that he can rediscover his 2018 form.
The New York Mets spent the first week of November adding some notable names to the franchise on minor league deals. Out of all the players that the Mets signed to minor league deals, one name stands out in particular—Arodys Vizcaino.
As I have written out in past articles, the Mets have been trafficking in making low-risk, high-reward moves to remake their bullpen for the 2021 season. Vizcaino is another pitcher that fits this description.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Vizcaino first arrived in the major leagues as an international free agent, signing with the New York Yankees. He eventually wound up with the Atlanta Braves in 2015, where he established himself as a fast-throwing, high-leverage reliever. From 2015 to 2018, Vizcaino recorded 49 saves and 21 holds for the Braves, pitching to a 2.79 ERA and 1.26 WHIP over 180 games with Atlanta.
His past success was unfortunately truncated due to a shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of 2019 and all of 2020. When MLB.com reported the torn labrum in Vizcaino’s shoulder, it was a setback for a propitious reliever that displayed potential to be a fixture in the Braves bullpen for years to come. However, with the serious injury Vizcaino suffered, the Braves did not want to wait for Vizcaino to recover, especially since they did not know whether he would be able to return to form.
It remains to be seen whether Vizcaino can return to the effective late-inning reliever that the Mets are hoping for in him. Before his shoulder surgery, Vizcaino had three pitches that he threw particularly well: a fourseam fastball, sinker, and slider. When Vizcaino was healthy and productive, Vizcaino displayed one of the best sliders in the game. With his slider, Vizcaino posted a whiff% of 56.4% in 2018, profiling as a high strikeout reliever.
Vizcaino’s slider is going to be key for his return. In 2018, which was his last effective year as a pitcher, Vizcaino’s slider held batters to a .111 average and a .200 slugging percentage, one of the best clips in the major leagues.
This mark is in line with the results Vizcaino received from his slider from 2015 to 2017, which shows that his slider was consistent throughout the years in getting hitters out. In 2015, batters held a .091 batting average against his slider. In 2016, hitters hit .157 and in 2017 that number was .101. Considering these numbers, and the fact that Vizcaino had a proven record of success as a late-inning reliever before his injury, the Mets are being sagacious in taking a low-risk, potentially high-reward chance on a pitcher who can contribute to the team in 2021.
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With all of the players that the Mets signed to minor league deals so far, Vizcaino’s path to make the Mets roster will be arduous. However, a strong showing in spring training can convince the Mets that the right-hander can serve as an effective member of a beleaguered Mets bullpen.