The good and the bad of what free agent Keynan Middleton can offer the Mets

Do the pros outweigh the cons?
New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays / Kelly Gavin/GettyImages

The harder you click refresh, the quicker the New York Mets will make a free agent signing to improve their bullpen. At maximum capacity at the moment with their 40-man roster, each addition they make will eliminate someone else from the conversation. Sitting on the 40-man roster and without options are potential DFA candidates such as infielder Zack Short and pitcher Sean Reid-Foley. They’d need to be extinguished for the Mets to make a move like signing free agent Keynan Middleton.

Likely introduced to Mets fans at last year’s trade deadline when the New York Yankees acquired him from the Chicago White Sox, he has been around for a few years but last season was one of his better campaigns. He excelled with the Yankees, pitching to a 1.88 ERA in his 14.1 innings of work. The overall numbers with Chicago added in come out to a 3.38 ERA in 50.2 innings along with a 1.24 WHIP and 11.4 strikeouts per 9.

He’s probably a guy who belongs in the mid-tier of free agent relievers. A suitable fit for the Mets, what’s the good and bad of choosing him?

The good Keynan Middleton can offer the Mets

A big deal was made last year of how David Robertson could be used often versus lefties. Middleton, who throws right-handed like Robertson, was actually better against left-handed hitters in 2023 than he was righties. Holding them to a .205/.241/.361 slash line in 87 plate appearances, the same way of thinking with Robertson could apply here.

Middleton improved in a lot of places. Most notably is where the ball went after leaving the bat. His 54.8% groundball percentage is much different than the 37.9% for his entire career. Has he tapped into a new weapon?

A fit to prove himself further on a short one-year deal, Middleton is someone who could very well be on the rise even further than what he showed last season.

The bad Keynan Middleton can offer the Mets

Was last year’s success a little outside of what to expect in 2024? He has some history of success but much of it came in years where he didn’t pitch a whole lot. Previous to 2023, Middleton went over 30 innings only two times—once as a rookie in 2017 and again in 2021 where he got knocked around a bit.

Middleton’s career numbers aren’t nearly as good as they were overall last year. The 4.47 FIP versus 3.84 ERA lifetime suggests danger is always lurking. He walks too many batters and doesn’t strike out enough to make up for it. He has been a fly ball pitcher for most of his career, with last year including the biggest change in the results with all of the groundballs.

One concern could be durability. He went on the IL with shoulder inflammation late in 2023. Despite having MLB experience since 2017, he has pitched in less than 200 innings. Some minor league innings have been sprinkled in throughout the years but nothing all that significant. He does come across as somewhat of an injury risk more so than some others. The Mets are familiar enough with those types of players to the point it shouldn’t remove Middleton from their list of choices.