John Curtiss is expected to make his New York Mets debut in 2023. Not familiar with him? He’s one of the gambles the Mets have taken in recent years. Somewhat similar to signing Sam McWilliams and Nick Plummer to MLB deals in past offseasons, the Mets gave Curtiss one last April despite knowing he’d be out all season.
The McWilliams and Plummer deals never panned out. McWilliams never reached Flushing. Plummer had a few at-bats but didn’t do enough in the minors to earn a place on the big league squad.
The Mets are hoping for better results out of Curtiss who took all of last year to recover from Tommy John Surgery. Will this small gamble for beer and pizza money payoff?
The Mets had nothing to lose but time and money when they invested in John Curtiss
Curtiss has tossed only 86.2 big league innings dating back to the 2017 season when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins. He’s not a prospect. This coming year will be his age 30 campaign. He has bounced around with a couple of clubs already in his career, having the most success with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020 and then the Miami Marlins in 2021.
While on the mound as a big leaguer, Curtiss is 6-2 with a 3.63 ERA. He has averaged a strikeout per inning. Maybe more notable is his control. With an average of 2.5 walks per 9, it’s a part of his game the Mets will hope continues post-Tommy John Surgery.
Because the Mets did pay him all of last year to rehab, they have every reason to see what he can offer them this season. This doesn’t mean he’ll be on the MLB roster. Curtiss does have a minor league option left. Depending on what else they may add to the bullpen, they can send him down to Syracuse to get some innings in. This is the most probable outcome for him.
As far as performance, we can expect him to have less trouble returning than a starting pitcher. Holding him back early in the year might be the smartest strategy for the organization. We wouldn’t want him running out of gas by August when the Mets don’t have anywhere to turn later in the year because of injuries and a lack of trade deadline to fix it.
The Mets have had a bit of an infatuation with Rays relief pitchers. It was with Tampa Bay where Curtiss first got regular action. This offseason, the Mets also acquired Brooks Raley in a trade with the Rays. The same was true for Drew Smith back in 2017. Sam McWilliams last pitched for the Rays organization prior to joining the Mets in 2021. For whatever it’s worth, David Robertson also pitched for the Rays in 2021.
In the New Year, Mets fans will be wishing Curtiss good health. After a year of waiting, we’ll get a chance to see why he was worth signing a year before he’d be able to pitch.