Jake Diekman finalizes the bullpen, Opening Day pitching matchup changes

The Mets completed their bullpen and saw the projected Opening Day opponent change.

Colorado Rockies v Tampa Bay Rays
Colorado Rockies v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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It was an eventful start to February for the New York Mets who saw themselves finalize what should be their bullpen on Thursday. They’ve agreed to terms with Jake Diekman, a 37-year-old lefty coming off of an ultimate Jekyll/Hyde year. He was a dud like most pitchers with the Chicago White Sox then completely turned things around in his 45.1 innings with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Diekman looks like the final piece of significance the Mets will add to their bullpen. What’s next for the Mets is to subtract from the 40-man roster accordingly and carry a couple of guys with them through spring training to protect in case of injury.

Jake Diekman isn’t just a lefty specialist

Diving into some of the important numbers from Diekman’s 2023 season, we can see how much better he actually was against right-handed hitters than lefties. A .151/.289/.235 slash line produced by righties should make him anything but a specialist to enter the game to face any onslaught of left-handed hitters. 

For what it’s worth, lefties batted .229/.350/.313 against him last year. It’s good but not nearly as masterful as the performance he had versus the batters who should make him suffer.

This isn’t unusual for him as his career totals are much the same. Righties have slashed .209/.327/.345 versus Diekman compared to lefties at .233/.345/.316. The OPS is slightly better for righties at .672 compared to .661 for left-handed opponents. 

In today’s baseball, left-handed pitchers are more about how the batter handles the pitcher than how the pitcher handles the batter anyway. Diekman should get used situationally more based on whether he’s facing a guy like Daniel Vogelbach who is atrocious versus lefties than a Brandon Nimmo who has learned to handle his own against them.

The Mets Opening Day pitching matchup has changed

Penciled in for Opening Day 2024 was Kodai Senga vs. Corbin Burnes. No more! Burnes was traded to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night. A shocking deal because of the lack of rumors leading up to the trade will surely sting all of Milwaukee.

Where do the Milwaukee Brewers go now? Burnes is gone. They non-tendered injured Brandon Woodruff as well. Adrian Houser is one of us. Their rotation may now feature Freddy Peralta at the top. A team on an interesting war path of subtracting and yet adding Rhys Hoskins this winter as well, it’ll at least be a little closer for Steve Cohen to invite Mr. Burnes over for dinner next offseason if he takes up residency somewhere in the area.

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