The New York Mets had an A+ offseason, of course, headlined by the signing of Max Scherzer. Guys like Starling Marte and Mark Canha have been massive upgrades for an offense that has been one of the best in baseball. Even Eduardo Escobar has had his moments despite a season of struggles.
What the Mets didn't really address this offseason was their bullpen. What was a team strength last season is not bad this season but could be better. Joely Rodriguez and Chasen Shreve being two of the three main additions isn't ideal.
However, Billy Eppler's most under-the-radar offseason move came with the signing of Adam Ottavino on a one-year $4 million dollar deal.
Adam Ottavino has kept the Mets bullpen from falling apart and exceeded all of my wildest expectations
I was excited about the Mets signing Adam Ottavino in the offseason. I thought he'd be a necessary middle reliever who can get key outs when called upon. He could fill the role Jeurys Familia played which was by no means a dominant reliever, but no bullpen has eight dominant arms.
Ottavino was coming off of a season in Boston where he posted a 4.21 ERA in 69 appearances. He's a guy who has proven he could pitch a lot and during his time with the Yankees, he excelled in his only full season as a set-up man.
Ottavino had promising advanced metrics that I felt could help him turn back into who he was in 2019, but I didn't think it would actually happen.
I actually could make the argument Ottavino has been even better than he was three seasons ago. So far, Ottavino has gone 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA in 43 appearances. Those appearances rank second on the team only behind Edwin Diaz.
What's really impressed me about Ottavino is his ability to throw strikes. He's always had filthy stuff with a wipeout slider, but he often had trouble locating. This season, he's walked just 2.3 batters per nine. Last season that number was at 5.1/9. Even in his dominant 2019 season, it was at 5.4/9. His career mark is at 4.0/9.
His much-improved control has made him jump into the primary set-up man for Edwin Diaz, a role he has excelled in. He has once again been dominant in terms of limiting hard contact as he ranks in the 98th percentile in average exit velocity and the 93rd percentile in hard-hit rate according to baseball savant.
All of the talk when discussing the Mets bullpen has been about Edwin Diaz, and rightfully so. But with the inconsistencies of Seth Lugo and Drew Smith when given the chance in the eighth inning, Adam Ottavino's dominance as the bridge to Edwin Diaz has made the Mets the formidable team that they are today.