Grading every major Mets move on the road to the 2024 season

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If Jake Diekman can improve his control, he will be a good reinforcement for the Mets bullpen

The New York Mets signed Jake Diekman this offseason to a one-year, $4 million contract with a vesting option for 2025 for the same value, which would apply if Diekman completes 58 appearances during the season. The veteran reliever who has accumulated 12 seasons in MLB has just closed 2023 with a good performance with the Tampa Bay Rays, with which he completed 45.1 innings in 50 appearances where he finished with an ERA of 2.18 and managed to strike out 53 batters, granting 25 walks.

Diekman's profile continues to show significant weakness in the control and command of his pitches, showing a high level of walk rate of 15.6%, placing him in the bottom 1% of the league in this area. Despite this, David Stearns decided to gamble on this pitcher who has a peculiarity and can be highly efficient at Citi Field.

Diekman has two things in his pitching profile that make him efficient despite his problems with walks. The first thing is that although he receives a lot of contact with his pitches from hitters, they do this more outside the strike zone than inside it, which generates contact with a greater probability of negative results for the hitters.

This is demonstrated in the increase in the outside swing % or chase rate, which went from 44.9% in 2022 to 62.9% in 2023. Likewise, this contact produces a hard-hit contact weak enough to induce low-speed hits, placing Diekman in the top 1% of the league with the lowest hard-hit contact allowed.

This combination of generating contact outside the zone and weakly has caused Diekman to produce at a level of expected batting average and expected slugging, which is one of the lowest in the entire league. The opportunity provided by this profile and the possibility of mitigating walks could offer the Mets an efficient high-leverage reliever in 2024.

C+. . . Grade. Grade