The first move the New York Mets made under Steve Cohen’s ownership came on the waiver wire. Stony Brook product Nick Tropeano was claimed from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Jacob Barnes from the Los Angeles Angels. Both are low risk, high reward options for the 40-man roster in 2021.
— Pirates (@Pirates) August 26, 2020
Tropeano converted to a full-time reliever with the Pirates and showed a major improvement in his career. Despite never pitching in a game that finished within four runs, he was very effective with a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched. Tropeano also had reverse splits, holding left-handed hitters to a .067 average while righties batted .289.
One of the keys to success was the increased usage of his slider. Tropeano threw the slider 31% of the time, a seven percent increase from the prior season. His slider’s runs above average were 2.3 compared to -4.3 back in 2018. One thing to look out for was a BABIP of .317 with his 28.8% strikeouts rate as hitters would find success when they put the ball in play against him.
Barnes is another right-handed reliever but has struggled with a 6.75 ERA in 50.2 innings since 2019. He lacks a secondary pitch after his cutter and four-sean fastball and has only thrown four pitches that were not tracked his main two since 2019. What Barnes lacks in pitch quantity, he makes up in the velocity and strikeout department.
Barnes fastball averages 95 mph, and batters only hit .174 against it during the 2020 season. His cutter is slightly under 90 but has excellent movement. It is a pitch that seems to be very hit or miss for Barnes as it has a 41.5% whiff rate, but batters hit .311 against it in 2020. It will be interesting to see how the Mets make his cutter a better weapon because the correct improvements could bring him back to the 3.54 ERA reliever he was during the first three seasons of his career.
Overall, these are good moves because of where they are slotted to fit in on the roster. If they were signed to confirmed 25-man roster spots, it would be questionable because of their lack of consistent success. As players who deepen the 40-man roster and have high upside, they become solid pickups before free agency opens up next week.