May will be better than his numbers suggest
In 2020, May finished the year 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA. It’s hard to get excited about an ERA like this. He was one bad inning away from having an ERA above 4.00. Although we strive to have a 4.0 in high school and college, it’s not exactly ideal for a reliever. In my mind, this has always been the separator between a good reliever and an average one.
I’m not so concerned with what May’s final season statistics will look like in 2021 as much as I value him getting the job done. If he gives up a run often but does not blow the lead, that’s fine. The Mets didn’t bring him to New York to get three clean outs. He’s wearing orange and blue to stop rallies and bridge those late innings.
It wouldn’t shock me to see May run into some trouble in 2021 and end the year with an ERA worse than the 3.86 he posted in 2020. A few bad bounces or a long fly ball picked up by the wind late in the year can completely ruin those “surface statistics” on the back of a baseball card.
With May, I think the more important numbers will be the deeper metrics. I’ll pay attention to his ERA+, WHIP, and FIP. The Mets are thinking more analytically under the current regime. It’s not so much about how many runs he could allow. Is he getting big outs in high-leverage innings?
A minor concern for me with May—quite frankly, any other reliever—is the number of home runs allowed. Home runs can kill a reliever’s season. With an average of 1.9 allowed per nine frames last year, I would hope a longer year could bring this number down to something close to what he did in 2019, surrendering 1.1 per nine.