Before we know it, the New York Mets will be playing actual games that don’t count much in the standings but can offer a glimpse into the immediate future. Spring training is heaven on earth. The sound of fastballs hitting catcher’s mitts is like the pearly gates opening up. The crack of a home run off a bat is a welcoming horn blown by the angels. The romance of baseball is nearing and the heart palpitations should have us all feeling a little more in love with this sport.
In less than a week, the Mets seemed to completely change the narrative around the bullpen. The sciatic pain we felt for much of the winter wasn’t due to a slipped disc but rather the haunting future of what these relievers would deliver.
Not so much anymore. While the bullpen is imperfect, there are three pitchers we should buy into having a good year. Two others, on the other hand, look destined for something worse.
Buy into the Jake Diekman signing
Jake Diekman wasn’t thought of as a top target for the Mets to fill their bullpen. At 37 and coming off of a whacky season, he kind of flew under the radar as a consideration. Like so many relievers, his career has included some major shifts in performance from the excellent to much less so.
Last year’s totals included a 3.34 ERA in 56.2 innings of work. The big bonus was how well he pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays after a horrendous stint with the Chicago White Sox to begin the year. The Rays worked their magic on him and ended up with a 2.18 ERA performance in 45.1 innings of work.
Was this all Tampa Bay sorcery or has Diekman tapped into a skillset from within that just needed unlocking?
About to enter his 13th MLB season, the highs and lows from a long and well-traveled career don’t offer much insight into what we can expect. Go with your gut. Buy into Diekman on a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2025 to be a productive member of the bullpen. Assisted by fellow lefty Brooks Raley who made the leap from the Rays to the Mets last year and continued his success, we should prepare for a lesser yet still reliable version of Diekman in Queens this coming year.