Mets flame thrower dazzles in his spring training debut

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After arguably being the team’s weakest link in 2023, new President of Baseball Operations David Stearns spent his first offseason with the Mets revamping the bullpen.

Through free agency, trades, and the waiver wire, Stearns has gathered a formidable crop of talent to come out of the bullpen in 2024.

However, who will be in the bullpen on March 28 has not been determined.

There are six current locks for the bullpen in Edwin Díaz, Jake Diekman, Adam Ottavino, Brooks Raley, Jorge Lopez and Drew Smith, resulting in two spots being up for grabs.

One potential bullpen option got off to a good start in his spring training debut.

Shintaro Fujinami impresses in his spring training debut

After his scheduled debut got postponed due to rain, Shintaro Fujinami finally took the mound, donning the blue and orange Thursday night against the Washington Nationals.

The Mets signed Fujinami to a one-year contract worth $3.35 million with $850k in incentives earlier this offseason.

Fujinami threw 10 pitches using a pitch mix featuring plenty of splitters, a cutter, a sweeper and a fastball, resulting in a pair of groundouts and a flyout in a clean seventh inning.

The Japan native’s one fastball clocked at 94.6 mph, much lower than his average, but that appears to have been intentional rather than something to be concerned about.

“If I tried, I could have thrown harder than today’s velocity,” Fujinami said through interpreter Issei Kamada postgame.

Control has been Fuijinami’s problem since coming to the major leagues, but new manager Carlos Mendoza was happy with what he saw against the Nationals.

“His first outing, he came in and threw strikes. That’s what we want. We know the arm, we know the stuff. When he’s around the zone, he’s going to help us,” Mendoza said.

Fujinami could retake the mound against the Detroit Tigers as soon as Sunday.

Time will tell whether the 29-year-old will make the Mets roster out of camp or start 2024 with Triple-A Syracuse, but regardless, he is off to a good start with the blue and orange.

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