Moving Jose Butto into a relief role full-time is the next step

Jose Butto showed some positive signs in his most recent appearance out of the bullpen.
New York Mets v Detroit Tigers - Game Two
New York Mets v Detroit Tigers - Game Two / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

Jose Butto had his shot to pitch a couple of innings for the New York Mets on Tuesday out of the bullpen. It was the 25-year-old’s fourth game of the year and fifth of his MLB career. The best way to describe it is as an unraveling.

Butto struck out Andrew McCutchen with 2 outs upon entering in the fourth. He bookended two more strikeouts in the fifth around a groundout. Wouldn’t you know, the sixth started with yet another strike three call. The Mets pitching prospect survived some danger in the sixth before the sweater was completely untangled in the seventh. Coincidence or not, it began with McCutchen again and one of several walks in the inning.

It wasn’t Butto who stood on the mound as the Pittsburgh Pirates crossed the plate 6 times in the inning. After a walk, double, strikeout, and another walk loaded up the bases with one out, Grant Hartwig came in and the chaos took off.

There are a couple of takeaways here. One is some confirmation of how Butto can be effective as a reliever.

NY Mets pitching prospect Jose Butto had a good but too long outing

The Mets aren’t going for wins right now. They’re trying things out. Butto wouldn’t normally pitch as long as he was asked to versus the Pirates in a different scenario. If the season were on the line, Buck Showalter would have surely pulled the plug before the top of the seventh even began.

A single performance shouldn’t nor will it determine Butto’s trajectory. Too many other factors are suggesting a permanent trip to the bullpen is what the Mets need to begin for this still salvageable pitcher.

Butto did toss 5 innings of 1-run ball earlier this year against the Oakland Athletics in his 2023 MLB debut. However, he did walk 4 and only struck out a pair. Most notable, it was against the Athletics.

Finding the strike zone was a problem for Butto again in his second outing when he walked 6 Washington Nationals batters across 4.2 innings of work. Wildness plagued him at Triple-A Syracuse this year. Butto has averaged 4.7 walks per 9 in his 17 starts. The effects have done damage to his ERA. In those 80 frames he has gone 3-6 with a 5.96 ERA.

More than a hit per inning (87 of them in 80 innings) piled onto what has been an uneventful minor league season for Butto. The inability to find the strike zone is a somewhat new phenomenon for him. He’s still at 2.9 per 9 innings in his 530.1 minor league innings working mostly as a starter. This dates back to 2017.

The Mets have two directions they can go with Butto if he remains in the plans. He either continues as a spot starter and multi-inning reliever in games where they’d rather not burn a more important relief pitcher. Or the Mets pull the card almost every pitcher has to take in his career.