New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Seth Lugo

Seth Lugo was the New York Mets version of Jekyll and Hyde during the 2020 season. Lugo’s “Jekyll” was his strong pitching out of the bullpen and his “Hyde” coming out as a starting pitcher. The latter forced his ERA to increase to a number nowhere near his bullpen production.

Lugo started the season in his normal role as a late innings specialist with the ability to pitch for more than three outs. He battled through a couple of rough outings to get himself in mid-season form all the way through his first start. Lugo was dominant through 10 games (1 start) with a 2.03 ERA, .170 average against, and only allowing eight hits.

Lack of Rotation Depth

The Mets pitching depth was so thin to a point where Lugo was forced into a starter role. Despite his success in the bullpen, it was the worst decision the Mets could make. As a starter, his past efforts showed he was just average while he was at an All-Star level in the bullpen. Lugo’s first start was a perfect three innings with five strikeouts, but it went downhill in his future starts.

In the following six starts, Lugo had a 6.23 ERA, allowed seven home runs, and a .323 batting average. Lugo had more starts of allowing six runs or more (2) than he did quality starts (1). Lugo had an issue with his curveball during a few of his starts, which caused deception issues with his other pitches. The curveball is his best weapon, and going into starts without confidence in the pitch puts him at a disadvantage.

Lugo finished the season with a 5.15 ERA and a 2.5 HR/9, which was the worst of his career. There are plenty of signs from the naked eye that show he is much better than those numbers, and the statistics show too. Lugo had a 3.29 SIERA and a 1.81 GB/FB from his 7.5-degree average launch angle.

With his fly ball numbers minuscule compared to the past, the question is why so many home runs were hit? Lugo’s average exit velocity was 90 mph, and his 42.6 hard-hit percentage were both career highs. Fly balls were hitless, but when they occurred, they typically resulted in damage.

The Mets’ goal should be to acquire enough starting pitching depth to keep Lugo in the bullpen. Lugo is just as valuable to Edwin Diaz in the bullpen and is needed as a second quality arm late in the game. Championship teams always have a pitcher who becomes a multiple inning reliever deep in the postseason. Julio Urias, Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi, Charlie Morton are the four warriors from the last four champs. Lugo fits right into that mold, which leaves his role in the bullpen indispensable.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

4-Seam Fastball: 45 (65), Lugo lost an mph on it, and the slugging percentage rose from .246 to .686.

Sinker: 30 (55), Batters hit .321 after hitting just .167 during 2019.

Curveball: 55 (70), Still has the elite spin rate (3213 rpm) but did not net the usual results.

Slider: 30 (30), 85 of 92 thrown to righties for a .333 average. Lugo has never had consistent success with it in the big leagues. As Wally Backman once said, “if a pitcher has a curveball and slider, one of them suck.”

Changeup: 70 (70), 62 of 65 were thrown to lefties, and it should be relied upon more in 2021. Despite not recording a strikeout on a changeup, batters only hit .143 against it.

Command: 60 (75), Walks have never been an issue for Lugo. The only blemish on his command comes from his curveball slump and fastball in the middle of the strike zone.

Overall: 50 (80), Usually pitchers with ERA’s over five get worse grades, but not many pitchers do with Lugo is capable of in the bullpen.

 

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Justin Wilson

New York Yankees, Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson was an unsung member of the New York Mets bullpen during the 2019 season and could duplicate the same success in 2020. After stumbling out of the gates to begin the season, Wilson found his groove towards the end of August and carried it to a dominant September.

Wilson reclaimed his late-inning role in the bullpen but struggled to keep runners off base. Over his first 11 outings, he allowed 12 hits and seven runs, and the BABIP against him was .440. Wilson was another victim of a pitcher who needed a full spring camp to regain his dominance on the mound. What did him in were two outings where he allowed three runs. In the rest of those nine outings, he allowed a run once.

Hot and Cold

When Wilson struggled, he could not limit the scoring from becoming a crooked number. Wilson regained his bullpen success over his last 12 outings. Over 11 innings, Wilson allowed one earned run, struck out 15, and the BABIP against him fell to .231. The most telling outing of that stretch where the Mets desperately needed him to pitch on a third consecutive day. Wilson struggled with his control but managed to get the Mets out of a bases-loaded jam. At the time, it was a game the Mets needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Most of Wilson’s 2020 stats were within one of each other; these included his WHIP, H/9, BB/9, K/9, and HR/9. What hurt him was his inability to be a dual-threat to both sides of the plate. Lefties only hit .115 while righties hit .306, after hitting .232 in 2019.

Wilson’s cutter was a major weapon in 2019 (.197 AVG., .246 SLG.), but it was hit for a .364 average in 2020. The difference was a small, but key, one where Wilson was throwing them low but more were in the middle of the plate. Wilson pinpointed it in 2019, but the xBA only rose 16 points. Getting his location back will make it a dominant pitch again.

Bring Him Back

Overall, the ERA does not explain the season Wilson had. His exit velocity against was the lowest of his career, and his hard-hit rate was in the top 8% of the league. Wilson’s FIP (3.04), WAR (0.5), SIERA (3.92), and soft/hard-hit rate (26.4%/20.8%) were all better than they were in his great 2019 season. If the Mets can bring him back, it would be a no-brainer to give him another contract. If this were a full season, Wilson’s ERA would have balanced out to match the rest of his numbers.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

4-Seam Fastball: 70 (70), On the brink of being a hard sinker, batters only hit .158 against the heat.

Cutter: 30 (65), Slightly struggled with location but will return to an effective pitch in 2021.

Slider: 50 (55), Only threw 12, but it is a pitch Wilson should use more often.

Sinker: 40 (N/A), 4-Seam Fastballs, which happened to have extra sink. Only five were thrown, and one resulted in Michael Conforto’s leaping catch.

Command: 50 (55), BB/9 has progressively improved over the last three seasons.

Overall: 55 (65), Hope to see him back in blue and orange for 2020.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Jared Hughes

Jared Hughes sprinted his way to the New York Mets after a bout with COVID-19, which kept him out of summer camp. Hughes was often called into duty once he was on the roster, and unfortunately, it caught him to him by the end of the season.

Hughes is known for his tremendous bowling ball sinker, which produces plenty of groundballs. He was a good as any reliever in the Mets bullpen through the first day of September. Hughes had a 2.51 ERA; batters hit .173 against him in 14.1 innings.

In his last six outings of the season, Hughes had nothing left in the tank. He allowed eight runs in the same amount of innings and allowed over two baserunners an inning. Hughes’s lack of control outside the strike zone led to six walks, and in the zone, it led to a .368 average against him.

Sink to Win

Hughes was able to neutralize righties using that hard sinker, holding them to a .340 slugging. Lefties were much better, slamming a .541 slugging percentage against him. The odd part about his season was his ERA below 1.50 with zero or one day rest but over 4.50 with more days of rest. Hughes got more rest in September, which seems like being taken out of the groove of pitching consistently allowed the fatigue to catch up to him.

Hughes 5.6 BB/9 and 8.5 K/9 were the highest of his career. He also produced the most soft contact since 2011, which shows that if his control was right, he was a useful reliever. Hughes’s concerning part comes with his ERA, WHIP, and FIP, all being the highest of his career.

Hughes heads into free agency and is looking for another one year deal to latch on with a franchise. His sinker fell victim to some bad luck with a .346 average but only a .261 xba. Hughes had plenty of success with his secondary pitches, which makes him a good risk on the marker.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Sinker: 50 (60), The overall numbers did not look good, but the movement is still as strong as ever.

Curveball: 80 (80), Wipeout pitch with a 46.7% whiff rate and good horizontal movement.

Changeup: 55 (50), Only threw 59 but had success with them.

4-Seam Fastball: 40 (45), The one hit in three put in play was a home run

Command: 45 (50), The high walk rate was a blip on the radar.

Overall: 45 (55), Would not be a bad idea for the Mets to bring Hughes back.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Chasen Shreve

Chasen Shreve made his return to NY baseball but this time it was with the New York Mets. Shreve came in with low expectations but ended up becoming one of the key relievers in the bullpen. His rediscovered split-finger was revived and it helped guide him to success.

Shreve pitched multiple innings early in the season and his success made him a valuable long man option for manager Luis Rojas. Shreve was also a nightmare against lefties, they had a better chance of walking than getting a hit. They hit just .063 with both hits coming as home runs, making it a real hit or miss against Shreve.

Diamond in the Rough

The Mets were careful to limit his usage due to 9 of his first 13 outings being four outs or more. It paid great dividends as he had a 1.99 ERA in 25.1 innings with 29 strikeouts and a .167 batting average against. Shreve’s newfound role caught up to him as he allowed seven runs (six earned) in his final four innings.

For a pitcher who only threw in the low 90s, Shreve’s fastball was a good one. Batters only hit .206 but it was where Shreve was hurt the most, with a .506 slugging. The split-finger was his out pitch, resulting in a 55.1% whiff rate and 28 of his 36 strikeouts. The xba was .156 and was his equalizer for having a lack of velocity.

Shreve’s success is sustainable because his 3.99 FIP was almost equal to his 3.96 ERA and his contact rates were on par with the majority of his career. The Mets should give Shreve another opportunity to earn a role in the bullpen. He will be under contract for one million dollars in 2021.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Fastball: 65 (55), His key was his ability to move it in and out of the zone. The lower locations also helped him as well.

Split-Finger: 80 (80): Almost 50 inches of drop according to baseball savant.

Slider: 45 (35), Only threw 34 of them and mainly to lefties.

Command: 55 (50), Good command of the split but still 4.3 BB/9.

Overall: 60 (55), Hope he remains in the bullpen for 2021.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Jeurys Familia

Jeurys Familia‘s return to the New York Mets did not go as planned during the 2019 season. Familia’s control issues caused him to put up the highest ERA of his career. While 2020 was not a return to All-Star form, Familia still proved to be a reliable option in the Mets bullpen.

We forget that Familia came into camp in February with a significant weight loss. His weight caused issues in repeating his complicated delivery in 2019, and the change helped revive his career. Familia struggled through his first seven outings of the season with a 5.91 ERA. The control issues remained as he walked six in 6.1 innings, but batters only had a .391 slugging against him.

Finding His Groove

It took a two-inning, four-strikeout appearance for Familia to hit his stride in the season. In those final 18 appearances, Familia threw 20.1 innings, had a 3.10 ERA, and batters hit just .187 against him. While his walked rate slightly decreased, he still walked 13 batters over that period. As Familia started to pitch better, he started to pitch later in the game.

Familia’s sinker location played a major part in his success, and also a little bit of luck helped too. In 2019, the average aginst it was .311, but the expected batting average was .277. Things regressed to normal in 2020 as the average against was .245 with a .276 xba. While he did not throw it as often, Familia’s fastball had an average velocity increase of almost 1.5 mph. He pitched above the strike zone with it as well to drop the average from .407 to .091.

The best part of Familia’s game was his ability to get out of jams. Hitters went 4-for-27 with runners in scoring position and 7-for-37 in late and close situations.

2021 Outlook

There are two things to be concerned with when it comes to Familia repeating his success. His 4.92 FIP was worse than it was in 2019. What saved him was his BABIP being just under 100 points lower in 2020 (.346 to .247). Familia’s walk and strikeout rates heading in opposite directions is also a cause for concern. Both were his worst numbers since his 2013 season when he only pitched in nine games.

Overall, Familia was productive with a 3.71 ERA in 25 games. As he heads into the final year of his deal, they could be cautious with how they used him early in the season. Despite the ERA being lower, other statistics show that he is in the middle of a regression. By no means that is his course for 2021, but his walk rate will be the root of any problems.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Sinker: 50 (45), Thrown 45.2% of the time, and led to his success. Can he rein in the movement is the biggest question for Familia.

Slider: 75 (75), Still tremendous pitch for Familia, great change of pace from his hard stuff.

4-Seam Fastball: 80 (70), I think it will regress since the whiff rate was under 20%, but it will still be effective.

Splitter: 70 (65), Most Familia has ever thrown it at 11.2% and shows potential for more success with a 26.1% whiff rate. Hitters also had a very tough time trying to elevate it.

Curve: 50 (N/A), Only threw one, and it looked like a slower slider that went for a bloop double.

Command: 35 (30), The track record over the last two seasons does not show it will improve.

Overall: 50 (45), Familia’s 2021 is like a coin flip. I do believe a full spring camp benefits him.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Edwin Diaz

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

After Edwin Diaz‘s disappointing first season with the New York Mets, he came out with something to prove in 2020. Despite pitching without fans in attendance, Diaz had to prove he could live up to the out of world expectations he came into 2019 with. Diaz was every bit as good as advertised once he got settled in during the shortened season.

After Diaz secured his first save of the season, he followed it up with a blown save the following day. It immediately caused panic, and it grew when he looked even worse in his third game of the season. Diaz only recorded one out and looked completely lost with his control. It looked like the same Diaz from 2019 was alive and well.

Flip The Calendar

Whether Jeremy Hefner was the fixer is still a question, but once August rolled around, Diaz found himself. In 23 outings for the rest of the season, Diaz was scored upon in only three of them. The home run killed Diaz in 2019, and he only gave up two in the entire 2020 campaign.

Diaz regained his closer role and was just as electric as he was back in 2018. This version of Diaz was more mature, confident, and learned how to stop an outing from becoming catastrophic. In September, Diaz allowed one run in 11.2 innings, struck out 20, and held batters to just a .128 batting average.

What’s The Difference?

The biggest difference between 2019 and 2020 was the pitch location from Diaz. Despite having wipeout stuff, when Diaz would leave it up in the zone, it made it easy for hitters to tee off. A perfect example was the Marcell Ozuna home run from the second game of the season. Diaz threw a fastball off the outside corner, but it made it easier for Ozuna to drive it over the right-field fence since it was belt high.

Diaz got back to pinpointing his slider on the low, outside corner to righties and throwing it out of the zone when needed. His slider’s revival led it to have a 57% whiff rate and dramatically lower the slugging percentage against it from .622 to .167. Diaz had the best K rate (45.9%) in the game and the lowest average exit velocity in his career.

Overall, Diaz better than the entire Mets bullpen combined. He left almost 90% of runners on base, had a 2.18 FIP, and had a home run rate on par with his 2018 season. Diaz had a 1.75 ERA, six saves and an outstanding 50 strikeouts in just 25.2 innings pitched. The Mets have Diaz for two more years, and it will be exciting to see him produce in a full 162 game season.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

4-Seam Fastball: 70 (70), Thrown 61% of the time, and once Diaz learned how to harness its horizontal movement, it returned to greatness.

Slider: 80 (80), Higher whiff% than in his 2018 season.

Sinker: 50 (N/A), Only threw five of them, but they looked like 4-Seamers with extra break.

Cutter: 20 (N/A), It was a spiked slider; baseball savant tracks things weird.

Changeup: 30 (35), Diaz threw it to Freddie Freeman in the first game of the season. I actually liked the pitch, but Diaz avoided using it for the rest of the season. I hope he brings it back in 2021.

Overall: 75 (75), The sky is the limit for Diaz. As always, he will play a major role in the potential World Series success of the 2021 Mets.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Robert Gsellman

Robert Gsellman was the right-handed version of Steven Matz for the 2020 New York Mets. Another sinkerball pitcher who failed to find any ability to keep the ball down in the strike zone. Unfortunately, it was the second consecutive season where Gsellman’s season ended due to an injury.

Gsellman dealt with some health issues that forced him to wait until August 8 to make his first appearance of the season. It was only a one-inning relief outing, and it turned out to be his only scoreless outing of the season. Due to the lack of depth in the starting pitching department, the Mets thrust him into the starting rotation.

Starting Pitcher Gsellman

It was not the first time Gsellman was forced to make important starts. In 2016, Gsellman came up as a rookie to join a beleaguered rotation and push the Mets to a wild card spot. The starts were his first since 2017, where he struggled mightily, and the nervousness showed in the first two outings.

Gsellman gave up four runs in just 3.2 combined innings during his first two starts. His biggest issue was struggling to keep his pitch count down as he needed 80 pitches to get through those two starts. After getting 11 days of rest, Gsellman came back to hold the New York Yankees to one run over four innings pitched. This outing only needed 57 pitches and used a season-high four strikeouts to battle through four hits.

Gsellman ran out of luck in his second consecutive outing against the Yankees. He was knocked out in the second innings after giving up four hits, walks, and runs on 52 pitches. Things only got worse when he was sent back to the bullpen and allowed six runs and two home runs in a mop-up role. To add injury to insult, Gsellman fractured his rib during a pitch and was in visible pain as he walked off the field.

Gsellman’s FutureΒ 

Like Matz, Gsellman had an issue figuring out how to keep his sinker low in the zone. Gsellman discussed using a one-seam fastball to get more sink instead of run, but it did not work out for him. The inability to put hitters away with his slider also led him to failure. Over the last two seasons, batters hit .130 and .208 against it, but this year it jumped all the way to .375. Instead of having whiff rates in the mid-30s, it dropped below his sinker at 14.3%.

The ugliest stat from Gsellman’s season was the hard-hit rate of 49.1%. When virtually half the balls hit have an exit velocity of 95 mph or better, it is impossible to put together a consistent success. Gsellman also had his groundball to fly ball rate drop for the fifth consecutive season, which is a major concern. Combining increased fly ball rates and high exit velocities create the .672 slugging percentage against him.

Gsellman is still under Mets control through the 2022 season. The Mets forced a failed starter back into the role due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s inability to find quality pitching depth to get the team through the season successfully. Due to the 9.64 ERA, Gsellman is on the outside looking in of a bullpen role. Gsellman can turn himself back into a useful reliever if he can regain his slider success and better his sinker’s location. At the moment, he finds himself on the outside, looking in at a bullpen spot.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Sinker: 40 (45), Only pitch batters hit below .300 against, and he threw it 45 of the time.

Slider: 25 (60), This is a pitch I believe Gsellman will refine. It was too good over the 2018-19 seasons to simply castaway.

4-Seam Fastball: 20 (30), The pitch hitters teed off on the most for a .857 slugging.

Changeup: 50 (50), All 20 were thrown to left-handed batters and swung and missed at 28.6% of the time.

Curve: 35 (35), Only threw 19 but had an above-average spin rate. Be on the lookout for Gsellman using this more in 2021.

Cutter: 30 (N/A), These were the final two pitches Gsellman threw in 2020. I believe they were hanging sliders due to their lack of movement.

Command: 25 (40), The command of his slider is what let him down the most. If nothing improves but the slider, it will make a major difference for Gsellman in 2021.

Overall: 20 (45), At least Gsellman cannot get worse.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Steven Matz

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

Steven Matz put together one of the worst pitching seasons in New York Mets history. The rotation needed Matz to step up at their two starter, behind Jacob deGrom and was the complete opposite of reliable. After two solid starts to begin the season, everything went downhill quickly.

Matz had a 3.18 ERA over his first two starts of the season, which included holding the Atlanta Braves to one run over six innings in his first start of the season. Despite the two good outings, Matz was consistently leaving the ball up in the strike zone and struggled to put hitters away with two strikes.

Home Run Machine

The following seven outings (four starts) for Matz featured a brutal stretch on the mound. Matz pitched to a 13.50 ERA, allowed 11 home runs, and a .360 batting in 19.1 innings pitched. He also dealt with a left shoulder injury, which kept him out for two weeks.

The reason for Matz’s struggles was his inability to pitch like a true sinkerballer. Matz threw a majority of his sinkers up and down the middle. When throwing that pitch 53.7% of the time, it became batting practice fastballs that hitters had a .322 batting average. Matz’s offspeed also spent plenty of time in a similar real estate as the sinker. While it was not up, it was still down the middle far too often.

His changeup was the one pitch that had some promise, but Matz has not mastered it. When he throws it anywhere from the knees to the ankles, it is a tremendous weapon for him. The changeup was in the upper part of the league when it came to horizontal and vertical movement. It netted him the most strikeouts of any pitch and had a 32.6% whiff rate.

What is the Fix?

The soft/medium/hard contact rates are very similar to 2019, so where did he go wrong? Matz’s biggest difference was the ground ball, line drive, fly ball ratios. In 2019, they were 19.8%, 47.1%, 33.0% compared to 28.4%, 32.6%, 38.9%. Combine those numbers with his average exit velocity increasing by almost three miles per hour, and you have a disaster.

The biggest fix Matz can make is attempting to start every pitch he throws at the knees and letting the natural movement take its course. Working down in the zone alone would lower the extremely high home run rate. The next thing for Matz would be to master the areas 6-10 inches off the plate on both sides. This would make hitters uncomfortable with digging in easily and allow his sinker to work off the inside corner to right-hand hitters.

I hope he does figure things out because he is living out a dream to pitch consistently in his home state. It was clear that his confidence was shattered at the end of the season, and nothing was working for him. Luckily, he will get one more opportunity to show he can live up to the prospect expectations he once had.

Matz will come into the 2021 season on the outside looking in of the Mets rotation. He is in the final year of his deal before free agency and could be a useful part of the bullpen or as a swingman. Do not be surprised to see the Mets cut ties with Matz and eat the money if he does not improve quickly in the spring.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Sinker: 35 (45), He threw it his hardest since his rookie, but the movement lacked due to its poor location.

Changeup: 50 (55), Could be his saving grace but still has to refine it.

Curveball: 20 (30), Only thrown 15% of the time, but hitters batted .400 against it.

Slider: 30 (30), Only threw 30 of them but hitters hit .250 against it with a homer.

Command: 20 (40), There is wild out of the zone, and then there is wild down the middle. Matz was the latter.

Overall: 20 (40), Absolutely horrible season, but somehow I believe a rebound is possible.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Michael Wacha

New York Mets, Michael Wacha

Michael Wacha joined the New York Mets for the 2020 season and was another of Brodie Van Wagenen’s failed starting rotation pieces. Injuries and the inability to limit the long ball hampered the terrible season for Wacha.

Wacha was slotted as a bullpen piece when spring training started but moved into the rotation once the season started. His first start of the season was the only good one he would put together. Wacha allowed one run over five innings against the Boston Red Sox. The Mets sent him to the IL with shoulder inflammation after allowing nine runs in his next two starts.

Return From the Injured List

Nothing changed when Wacha returned three weeks later. Wacha had a 6.75 ERA over his final 20 innings, and batters walloped him for a .636 slugging percentage. The one good outing for Wacha came in a relief appearance where he held the Philadelphia Phillies to one run in four innings.

One of the interesting things about Wacha’s season was his reverse splits. Right-handed hitters batted .346 while lefties hit .275. Most of that was due to his inability to put away right-handers. The changeup was the putaway pitch for lefties, but the cutter did not work as well to finish at-bats. Opposing hitters batted just .228 against the changeup, and it had an outstanding 40.8% whiff rate.

While the changeup was a reliable pitch, the cutter and 4-seam fastball were useless. Batters hit .314 against the cutter and .400 against Wacha’s fastball. This was the same trend from 2019, which caused his home run rate and ERA to elevate. Opposing hitters also had an 8.2% barrel, and solid contact rate, which was also the highest of his career.

Overall, it was brutal to watch any start Wacha made in 2020. He finished the season with a career worse 6.62 ERA, 2.4 HR/9, and had a career-best 9.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. Wacha’s sabermetrics cut him some slack as he had a 3.99 SIERA, and his xFIP- is 98. He will not be a Met in 2021, but he does pose promise as a reliever if he wants the opportunity.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

4-Seam Fastball: 20 (35): Not much to say about a pitch that turns hitters into Tony Gwynn.

Changeup: 60 (60): Thrown 29.2% of the time and the only pitch he could rely on. It still has the same movement it had back in 2013.

Cutter: 35 (35): Not a fan of this pitch if it is his only use against righties. Moving it to a slider is a better option to remain a starting pitcher.

Curveball: 30 (40): Only threw seven all season, but a pitch I would recommend him using more against right-handers if Wacha wants to keep the cutter.

Command: 45 (45): Wacha’s command throwing strikes was great, but it was due to the immense about of pitches he threw in the middle.

Overall: 25 (35): Wacha’s worst season in the big leagues but still has the tools to resurrect his career.

 

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher David Peterson

New York Mets, David Peterson

The New York Mets desperately needed starting rotation depth early in the season, and they turned to rookie left-hander David Peterson. He stepped into the role and became the second most consistent pitcher behind Jacob deGrom in the starting rotation. Though Peterson did not get any Rookie of the Year votes, he still had a very productive first season.

Despite Peterson not having swing and miss stuff, he still had plenty of weapons to be a successful pitcher. Peterson only had one start where he allowed more than three runs and opposing hitters only batted .202 against him. Left-handed hitters were useless against Peterson; they batted just .161 and had a .226 slugging percentage.

Two things for Peterson to improve upon are his walks and working deeper into the game. He averaged just under five walks per nine innings, partly due to his inability to pinpoint his fastball. Peterson also needed to work outside the zone for success, which in part leads to more balls thrown.

Peterson only threw six innings in one of his first five starts but found consistent success in his final three. Over his final three starts, Peterson only allowed four runs in 18 innings while striking out 16. This included a 10 strikeout outing against the Atlanta Braves.

Trust the 1 and 2

Peterson’s fastball and slider were undoubtedly his best two pitches. Opposing hitters batted .164 and .119 against them, respectively. Peterson threw his fastball/slider 63.3% of the time, and that is a number that could increase as he learns to command them better. Peterson’s changeup and sinker hurt him the most despite throwing them only 18.7% and 15.8% of the time. Those were the only two pitches where batters hit over .300 against Peterson.

From a statistical standpoint, the biggest improvement should come on the amount of hard contact he allows. 31.2% of balls in play had hard contact, compared to just 11.6% of soft contact against him. That is one reason why his FIP is at 4.52 instead of closer to his season ERA.

Overall, Peterson was tremendous for a rookie who had never pitched above AA. He is only getting better, and he has all the tools to be a consistent, quality pitcher in the big leagues. Peterson was 6-2 with a 3.44 ERA in 49.2 innings pitched with 40 strikeouts. He currently slots as a 4-5 starter in the 2021 Mets rotation.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

4-Seam Fastball: 65 (60), Only averaged 92 mph but was a tough pitch for hitters to square up.

Slider: 75 (70), Undoubtedly, his putaway pitch had a 37.1 whiff rate. Look to see him use it more against lefties in 2021.

Changeup: 35 (45), If Peterson can command it better, this has real potential. Just too many were left up in the zone, which resulted in a .556 slugging percentage against it.

Sinker: 30 (30), This might be a pitch Peterson moves away from in 2021 since he has so much success with his 4-seam fastball. Peterson typically threw it to right-handed hitters, and they knew it would only be away.

Curveball: 40 (45), He only threw 18 of them on the season, but it should be a pitch he mixes in more than the sinker.

Command: 40 (50), As Peterson continues to pitch in the big leagues, he will get better with his control. Throwing more pitches, he has confidence in will help that.

Overall: 55 (60), It was a good rookie season for Peterson, and he likely replaces Steven Matz as the lefty in the rotation.