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NY Mets: What to expect from Trevor Hildenberger in the bullpen

FORT MYERS, FL- FEBRUARY 24: Trevor Hildenberger #78 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins on February 24, 2020 at the Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL- FEBRUARY 24: Trevor Hildenberger #78 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins on February 24, 2020 at the Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
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The New York Mets have already lost a couple of players to the IL including relief pitcher Dellin Betances. The result was that a former Twins pitcher is going to get another opportunity to salvage his big league career.

Trevor Hildenberger, 30, was added to the Mets active roster on Thursday after the team placed Betances on the IL. Hildenberger is arriving on the roster at the right time: With a solid performance over the next (at minimum) week and a half, Hildenberger could keep his spot in the bullpen.

Hildenberger started his career in the Minnesota Twins organization, being drafted in the 22nd round out of the University of California, Berkeley. He was called up by the Twins in 2017 and had an encouraging debut. He made 37 appearances and finished the season with a 3.21 ERA. Over his next two seasons though, he posted a combined 6.35 ERA across 89 ⅓ innings.

Trevor Hildenberger replaces Dellin Betances in the Mets bullpen, and he will get a chance to show he can be the strikeout right-handed reliever that the team needs.

Hildenberger has yet to recapture the success that he saw three seasons ago, although he had a good showing during Spring Training. In a limited sample size, Hildenberger allowed only one run over 3 ⅓ innings. The most encouraging statistic, though, was that Hildenberger amassed nine strikeouts in Spring Training, which was a remarkable achievement, especially since he has never profiled as a strikeout pitcher. Over his three seasons in the major leagues, Hildenberger has averaged 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

So what can Mets fans expect from Hildenberger? At his best, which he displayed in Spring Training, Hildenberger will use primarily three pitches: a fastball, slider, and a changeup. His slider, in particular, has been fairly effective over the years in striking hitters out, so expect Hildenberger to go with that pitch if he gets hitters into a favorable count. Considering that Hildenberger compiled a BABIP over .400 in his last full season, his key to success will be to keep the ball out of play.

Hildenberger arrives on the active roster at a time when several roster spots in the Mets bullpen should not be considered safe. Betances was not exactly providing the Mets with the late-inning relief they were hoping for when they signed him. In his year-plus with the Mets, Betances has compiled a 7.82 ERA, which is more than five runs higher than his career average (2.53). His velocity has also dipped several miles on his fastball, which is part of the reason why he has become more hittable over the past couple of seasons. Betances’ decline has been rapid and it has been disheartening to witness because not too long ago, he served as a reliable right-hander in the Yankees bullpen.

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As a result, Hildenberger is replacing a relief pitcher who is not a lock to regain his spot after coming back from injury. This is his opportunity to show the Mets that he can be the lockdown right-handed strikeout pitcher that the team was hoping Betances would be.

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