New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Jason Vargas

The journeyman veteran Jason Vargas is one of the many veterans the New York Mets signed this past offseason. He starts the year on disabled list but his return is coming soon.

The Florida Marlins drafter Vargas in the 2nd round of the 2004 MLB Draft. Vargas skyrocketed through the minor leagues and was called up in 2005. Vargas had a solid 13 starts and put up a 4.03 ERA, but struggled mightily in the 2006 campaign. In 43 innings he had a 7.33 ERA and had more walks than strikeouts.

First Year as a Met

After 2006, the Marlins traded Vargas to the Mets with pitchers Adam Bostick for pitchers Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens. Vargas only made two starts in his first stint with the Mets and they were dreadful. He pitched 10.1 innings, allowed 14 runs and 4 home runs. After the season he had a bone spur removed from his elbow in October, followed by surgery for a torn labrum in his left hip.

The Mets packaged Vargas with six other players sent to the Seattle Mariners in a three-team trade between them and Cleveland Indians. He spent the entire 2008 season recovering from his injuries. Vargas made his Mariner debut in 2009 and pitched to a 4.91 ERA, splitting time in the bullpen and rotation.

He earned a rotation spot in rotation in 2010 and made 31 starts with a 3.78 ERA. Vargas built off that year in 2011 by pitching over 200 innings for the first time in his career. His 2012 season was his best with the Mariners. He had career highs with 217.1 innings, 14 wins and 141 strikeouts.

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The Los Angeles Angels acquired Vargas for Kendrys Morales after the 2012 season. Unfortunately, he missed almost two months with a blood clot in his armpit but still made 24 starts and pitched to a 4.02 ERA. Vargas signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Kansas City Royals in the 2013 offseason.

Vargas Finds a Home with the Royals

He proved to be a reliable starter for the Royals and had 11 wins with a 3.71 ERA. The injuries started to hit Vargas in 2015 and it limited him to only 43 innings which resulted in Tommy John Surgery. He only made three starts in 2016 but bounced back in 2017. Vargas pitched to a 4.16 ERA, won 18 games and was named an All-Star for the first time in his career. Vargas had a 2.62 ERA in the first half but it ballooned to 6.38 in the second half.

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He inked a two-year and $16 million deal with an $8 million option for a third year. He broke his hand on a comebacker in Spring Training but should be ready to go in a week or two. Vargas will likely replace Seth Lugo in the starting rotation when he returns.

Vargas offers a veteran presence the Mets missed when Bartolo Colon left. He will take the ball every five days and gives his team a chance to win most of the time he goes on the mound. He is one of the few classic left handed pitchers in the game who uses all of his pitches and relies on contact to get batters out. Vargas has a fastball (87-90 mph), curveball (74-77 mph) mph, cutter (83-86 mph) and changeup (80-82 mph).

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New York Mets Injury Report

Three games into the season and the New York Mets already have their first injury in the regular season.

The Mets scratched Brandon Nimmo (flu) from Sunday’s lineup because of his flu like symptoms. Juan Lagares got the start and some rest/medicine should take care of the sickness. This is not the worst injury but it qualifies since it kept him from being in the lineup.

The Latest Mets Injury

Anthony Swarzak (oblique) suffered the injury Saturday and was evaluated on Sunday. On Monday he underwent more test and an MRI. It is a little surprising the Mets have not put Swarzak on the 10-day disabled list so they do not have to play with 24 players. The 10-day DL was created so teams did not have to lose a player for two weeks if they did not need to. Once the MRI results comeback, the Mets will likely make their decision then.

Michael Conforto (shoulder) is moving ahead of schedule from his injury and could be activated on Thursday. Conforto faced Jason Vargas in a simulated game Monday will start to workout with the team this week. The Mets start their first series with Washington Nationals Thursday and with minor league spring training over, he will likely join the team at that point.

The aforementioned Jason Vargas (right hand) threw a bullpen session over the weekend and pitched in a simulated game Monday. He still is not able to catch with his glove hand yet which does not allow the team to give a set date for his return. Vargas is still building up his stamina as well, so a mid-April return should be in the works for the veteran left-hander.

Dominic Smith (quad) started the season on the 10-day DL and headed to Las Vegas to start the season at Triple-A. The road back to the big leagues for Smith has grown longer since Spring Training started. Hopefully, he can right himself because the Mets have high hopes in him.

Rafael Montero (right elbow), David Wright (back and shoulder) and T.J. Rivera (right elbow) all remain on the shelf and currently have no timetable to return. There has been no further news on their recoveries.

New York Mets Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (4/2-4/4)

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

The New York Mets welcome the young upstart Philadelphia Phillies into Citi Field for their first National League East series of the season. The Phillies lost two out of three games against the Atlanta Braves in their opening series. The Mets won the season series last year 12-7, this will be the first time new managers, Mickey Callaway and Gabe Kapler faceoff.

Probable Pitching Matchups

(4/2, 7:10 PM) Ben Lively (0-0, -.–) vs. Matt Harvey (0-0, -.–)
(4/3, 7:10 PM) Aaron Nola (0-0, 1.69) vs. Seth Lugo (0-0, -.–)
(4/4, 1:10 PM) Nick Pivetta (0-0, 6.75) vs. Noah Syndergaard (1-0, 6.00)

The Mets started the season off strong by taking two out of three from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies bring in a very young team lead by their big bats of Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins. Young pitchers Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez with the new addition of Jake Arrieta gives the Phils a rotation that has high potential.

Kapler has already been second guessed for his managerial style. He wants everybody to play and will yank his pitchers’ way before they hit 100 pitches. Even if a pitcher is cruising, he will pull them out early so they do not have to face the lineup a third time. Losing a game 15-2 and blowing a five run lead on opening day has blown open the floodgates for second guessing.

The Mets have beat up on the Phillies the last few seasons but pitchers will certainly have their work cut out with Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana, and Maikel Franco in the middle of their lineup. With Pat Neshek on the disabled list, their bullpen is lackluster at best but Hector Neris is their lone bright spot.

Matt Harvey will try to work through the conditions on Monday in his highly anticipated first start of 2018. Last year was one to forget but the Mets feel he has regained his confidence and most importantly his Cy Young caliber stuff. Over the years no Mets pitcher has drawn more attention from the media and admiration from the Mets fans. When Matt Harvey is on top of his game it is certainly fun to watch.

Matchups to Lookout For

Maikel Franco has terrorized the Mets over his career. His nine home runs against the Mets are the most he has against any other team. Noah Syndergaard has been dominant against the Phillies, he has a 1.78 ERA in 35.1 innings against them.

Aaron Nola has struggled in his career against the Mets. He has a 6.19 ERA and has allowed 18 hits in 16 innings against the Mets. The Phillies have put up good numbers against A.J. Ramos in the past. He has a 4.62 ERA and has walked 27 batters in 37 innings against the Phillies.

Interesting Stats

To support Kapler’s idea of taking pitchers out early, Adrian Gonzalez has hit .312 in his career when a pitcher is pitching through the order for the third time. Nick Pivetta has a 3.65 ERA during day games, compared to his inflated 7.73 ERA at night.

What Do The New York Mets Do When Michael Conforto Returns?

Michael Conforto is set to return to the New York Mets before his original May 1 date. The Mets have to figure out how to make room for Conforto in their crowded outfield.

There will be no changes when it comes to Yoenis Cespedes or Jay Bruce in the outfield. The decision to demote either Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares is a difficult one for the organization to make. The Mets could also demote Phillip Evans, if they choose to have five outfielders.

Brandon Nimmo vs. Juan Lagares

Nimmo has shown his prowess for working deep counts and ability to be the Mets leadoff hitter. He can also play all three outfield positions and is a solid bat to have off the bench. Nimmo has shown he is a quality outfielder and has solidified his spot on the Mets roster. The Mets have been high on Nimmo since they drafted him and they likely will not want to remove the hustle and patience he brings to the Mets.

Lagares is a gold glove center fielder but has always struggled with being a consistent hitter. It is unlikely the Mets move Lagares because he is undoubtedly the best defensive outfielder they have. His glove has been a game changer in the years past which keeps him on the Mets roster year after year. If the Mets were to choose between Nimmo and Lagares, they would likely go with Nimmo. Nimmo is younger, a better hitter and can play all three outfield positions.

How the Mets Will Handle Conforto When He Returns

Conforto’s will likely be worked into everyday action slowly and with caution. Manager Mickey Callaway has said he does not want to overwork guys in the regular season and make sure his bench players do not spend too many consecutive games on the bench. The days of 150-plus games being played is most likely over.

Conforto will likely reclaim his spot as the Mets leadoff hitter and center fielder when he returns. In order to give Adrian Gonzalez some rest, Bruce could play first base which would move Conforto to right and Nimmo/Lagares to center. The Mets can do a lot many different things with their lineup and they do not have a player Callaway is afraid to play.

Getting Conforto back healthy makes the Mets lineup even more dangerous. It gives the Mets and outfield that is one of the very best in baseball and can all be All-Stars. Conforto was one the few bright spots of a dark 2017 and will be one of the key pieces the Mets need to make another World Series run in 2018.

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Noah Syndergaard

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard is the ace of the New York Mets pitching staff and is looking to bounce back to have a healthy season this year. Thor brings a strong repertoire of pitchers and is certainly a favorite of many for this years Cy Young award.

The Toronto Blue Jays took Syndergaard with the 38th pick of the 2010 MLB Draft. After three strong years in the minor league system, the Mets acquired Thor, John Buck, Travis d’Arnaud and Wuilmer Becerra for Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas and R.A. Dickey. The potential was there for Syndergaard but had to learn to be a pitcher, not a thrower.

Syndergaard’s Career as a Met

In 2014, the Mets decline to bring up Syndergaard during September call-ups which surprised many around the team. The organization felt he still was not ready and still had to improve mentally and on the field. In May of 2015 the Mets finally called-up Syndergaard to make his debut against the Chicago Cubs. Thor had terrific rookie season going 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA and 166 strikeouts to 31 walks. He recorded the Mets lone win in the 2015 World Series and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year Voting.

Syndergaard’s game improved in 2016 where he was virtually the only starter, along with Bartolo Colon, who could remain healthy. He put up ace type numbers; 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA (third in the NL) and 218 strikeouts (fourth in the NL). Syndergaard earned his first All-Star selection, finished eighth in Cy Young voting. He pitched seven shutout innings in the Wild Card game to cement his place as the Mets big game pitcher. His ability to throw his fastball at 100 mph and keep his walk rate low was a big key for his 2016 dominance.

Injuries Ruined Thor’s 2017

2017 was a year filled with high expectations for the Mets but like so many of his teammates he succumbed to the injury bug. After starting the season on fire and foregoing an MRI he pulled his lat muscle in May and did not return until September when the Mets were out of it. He only pitched 30.1 innings but had a 34:3 strikeout to walk ratio.

Syndergaard had a terrific start on Opening Day. He picked up the win a struck out 10 without walking anybody against the St. Louis Cardinals. Thor can throw all five of his pitches at any could and combining it with the velocity he has makes him a perennial Cy Young candidate. Syndergaard has the demeanor, guts and confidence to lead the New York Mets to a championship and will not accept anything short of it.

New York Mets Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets (3/29-4/1)

Opening Day is finally upon us, after the treacherous winter weather, baseball is back. The New York Mets open up at Citi Field against the St. Louis Cardinals in a three game series to start the season. The St. Louis Cardinals come into town with the newly acquired Marcell Ozuna to go along with their core of Carlos Martinez and Yadier Molina.

Projected Starting Pitchers

(3/29, 1:10 PM) Carlos Martinez (0-0 -.–) vs. Noah Syndergaard (0-0 -.–)

(3/31, 1:10 PM) Michael Wacha (0-0, -.–) vs. Jacob deGrom (0-0 -.–)

(4/1, 1:10 PM) Luke Weaver (0-0, -.–) vs Steven Matz (0-0 -.–)

The New York Mets bring in a very talented team that has a very good mix of knowledgeable veterans and hungry young players. From Amed Rosario to Adrian Gonzalez, the focus for the Mets is simple, win the World Series. The team did not have a winning record in Spring Training but that does not translate to the regular season their confidence is high going into Opening Day.

The Cardinals also bring in a team similar to the Mets and the acquisition of Marcell Ozuna has put them in a position to compete with the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers in the strong National League Central. Their ace Carlos Martinez and young upstart outfielder, Tommy Pham, are just a couple of talented players this team possesses.

Both teams bring very talented pitchers to the table in these first three games of the year. It would be no surprise if all three of these games ended with a 3-2 score. Mets manager Mickey Callaway is pulling a page out of old Cardinals manager, Tony La Russa’s book. Callaway is opting to bat Syndergaard eighth and Rosario ninth to put two leadoff men in front Yoenis Cespedes.

Kevin Plawecki is also getting behind home plate over Travis d’Arnaud. This is not unfamiliar to have d’Arnaud on the bench. The same situation occurred last year with Rene Rivera getting the opening day nod. Syndergaard is not comfortable with throwing to d’Arnaud and Callaway feels Martinez is a good matchup for Plawecki.

Matchups to Look For

Jay Bruce has struggled against Martinez and Wacha going 5-47 (.106) in his career against the Cardinals two starters. Jacob deGrom has been terrific over his career during day games. He is 17-8 with a 1.99 ERA during the day.

Marcell Ozuna is no stranger to Citi Field and has shown he love to hit there. Ozuna has hit .310 with 17 RBIs in his career at Citi Field. Mets fans know way too well that Yadier Molina has torched over his career putting a .321 average up in 77 games against the Mets.

Interesting Stats

The Mets are 35-21 on Opening Day but oddly enough they are 1-3 in March Opening Days. The last time they won a March Opening Day was back in 1998, which was a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yadier Molina will make his 14th consecutive Opening Day start, which is the longest streak by any active player with one team. He will tie former New York Yankee catcher Bill Dickey and put himself one behind Ray Schalk for the most all-time.

MLB Season Preview

New York Yankees

MLB Season Preview

One of the most exciting times of the year is opening day in Major League Baseball and we are only a few days away. The New York Yankees looked primed and ready to go after falling one game short of the World Series and the New York Mets look to rebound from a dreadful season. It is also the time of year to roll out predictions that will most likely be way off, but it is fun nonetheless.

So here it is… My MLB 2018 season predictions!

AL East

Team Record
1. New York Yankees 98-64
2. Boston Red Sox 94-68
3. Toronto Blue Jays 82-80
4. Baltimore Orioles 78-84
5. Tampa Bay Rays 72-90

No Surprise here. The New York Yankees added the reigning National League MVP to an already stacked lineup. The starting pitching will be the biggest concern this season with Yankees. Severino and Gray should be solid but you always have concerns with Tanaka’s health and Sabathia’s age.

If they hold up then the Yankees have 100 win potential. Should be a fun summer in the Bronx. The Boston Red Sox will make things interesting and compete all season but will fall short however, they will secure a wild card spot.

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AL Central

Team Record
1. Cleveland Indians 100-62
2. Minnesota Twins 87-75
3. Chicago White Sox 68-94
4. Kansas City Royals 67-95
5. Detroit Tigers 65-97

We can simply pencil in the Cleveland Indians for an AL Central title. The Minnesota Twins did get better in the off season by adding Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison and although that will not be enough to overtake the Indians, it will be enough to earn a chance in the wild card game. The other three teams in the division will be battling for last place the entire season which will result with the Indians running away with this division early.

AL West

Team Record
1. Houston Astros 101-61
2. Los Angeles Angels 84-78
3. Texas Rangers 81-81
4. Seattle Mariners 80-82
5. Oakland Athletics 77-85

This will be another easy division title for the Houston Astros. Many teams who come off of a World Series championship may come out to start the season a little sluggish. I just do not see that happening with the Houston Astros. They are a scrappy, hard nosed team who still sound very hungry, especially starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel.

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We’re not the Cubs,” Keuchel told The Washington Post when asked about the Chicago Cubs’ returning almost the same team from their 2016 championship and winning 11 fewer games. “I firmly believe we have better players.” The Angels did improve in the offseason by adding Zack Cosart and the two way Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani but that will not be enough.

NL East

Team Record
1. Washington Nationals 96-66
2. New York Mets 89-73
3. Philadelphia Phillies 80-82
4. Atlanta Braves 74-88
5. Miami Marlins 70-92

The Washington Nationals did not do much in the offseason but to be fair, they really didn’t need to. They added Matt Adams which will give them a little more pop in their lineup from time to time but that’s about it.

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They still should reign supreme in the NL East with another division title. The New York Mets will rebound from a horrendous year last year and they should contend for the division but will ultimately fall short. They will however earn a spot in the Wild Card playoff game.

NL Central

Team Record
1. Chicago Cubs 94-68
2. Milwaukee Brewers 88-74
3. St. Louis Cardinals 85-77
4. Pittsburgh Pirates 68-94
5. Cincinnati Reds 66-96

This will be a very interesting year in the National league Central. I still see the Chicago Cubs taking home the division title but it will not be easy. The Brewers are a team on the rise and will push the Cubs this season.

I envision the Cubs pulling away in September after a back and forth summer. The St. Louis Cardinals will compete as always but they do not have the pitching quality they had in years past.

NL West

Team Record
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 96-66
2. Colorado Rockies 89-73
3. Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75
4. San Francisco Giants 85-77
5. San Diego Padres 68-94

This will be the most exciting division to keep an eye on this season. You have four legitimate teams that will make a push for the playoffs this year. I still think the Dodgers are the cream of the crop and will win the division but the other teams are getting closer.

The Rockies will surpass the Diamondbacks this year and grab and NL Wild card spot. I would have the Giants a bit higher if it were not for the injury to Madison Bumgarner. Losing two months of the season will put them in a tough spot because they lack depth at starting pitching.

Wild Card Games

American League Wild Card Game

Red Sox over Twins

National league Wild Card Game

Mets over Rockies

American League Divisional Series

Red Sox over Astros

Yankees Over Indians

National League Divisional Series

Mets over Dodgers

Nationals over Cubs

American League Championship Series

Yankees over Red Sox

National League Championship Series

Nationals over Mets

2018 World Series

Nationals over Yankees

 

 

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Anthony Swarzak

One of the newest New York Mets, Anthony Swarzak, looks to be a reliever the team can depend on. The Mets signed him to a two year, $14 million deal in the offseason to rebuild the bullpen.

The Minnesota Twins drafted Swarzak in the 2nd round of the 2004 MLB Draft. He waited until 2009 to finally get a call-up to the big leagues. Swarzak struggled with the Twins, putting up a 6.25 ERA in 12 starts. His entire 2010 season was spent in the minor leagues, but returned in 2011 to put up a 4.32 ERA.

His ERA rose to 5.03 in 2012 and spent a majority of the year in the bullpen. Swarzak’s 2013 season started on the DL after fracturing his rips after “wrestling around a little bit”. He returned to have a very strong season with a 2.91 ERA in 96 innings.

Swarzak Has Been a Journeyman Since He Left the Twins:

He regressed in 2014 with his ERA up to 4.60 and his strikeout numbers going down. The Twins announced that Swarzak was out-righted off the 40-man roster after the season ended. The Cleveland Indians signed him to a minor league contract in 2015 but released him after he pitched 10 games.

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Upon his release, Swarzak signed with the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization where he finished the rest of the 2015 season.  Swarzak signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees in February of 2016. He started the season with in Triple-A and but finished the season with a 5.52 ERA in 26 games. Swarzak was granted free agency instead of accepting a demotion to Triple-A at the end of the season.

The Chicago White Sox brought in Swarzak on a minor league deal for the 2017 season and he went on to have a terrific season. In late July he became a trade piece for the Sox and they sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers for a minor league outfielder. He had the lowest ERA (2.33) and most strikeouts (91) he has had in his long career and he was able to parlay it into a good deal in a slow free agent market.

Swarzak has always struggled with putting back to back strong seasons but the Mets believe that Swarzak is a different pitcher now than earlier in his career. Swarzak bring a mid-90s fastball, a high-80s tight slider and will pound the strike zone. He has only pitched three innings this spring, allowing one run, but will be ready to pitch on Opening Day.

New York Mets Injury Report

This week’s New York Mets  injury report features their first major injury of 2018, but other Mets are making great strides in their recoveries.

Rafael Montero (right elbow) will undergo Tommy John Surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. Montero said he had a “weird” feeling in his elbow in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals last week. It is an unfortunate early ending to Montero’s season and he likely was going to make the team even after a dreadful Spring Training. The Mets could choose to part ways with Montero before he recovers from the operation.

Jason Vargas (right hand) is progressing from his hand surgery very nicely and threw a bullpen session on Sunday. His arm is fine and he is on his way to making sure that he can use his glove effectively again.

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The Mets will have Vargas throw a couple more bullpens then send him to the minors with an emphasis on not rushing him back. His return is set for mid-April and if all five starters are pitching well the team will have a tough decision to make on who they are sending to the bullpen.

deGrom Seems to be Injury Free:

Jacob deGrom (back) has made every scheduled start this Spring and made another one in Monday’s split squad game. He will be ready for opening day and has been strong in his starts this spring. He is scheduled to pitched the Mets second game of the season on Saturday.

Dominic Smith (quad) will not play another Grapefruit League game this year. He will remain in extended spring training at the start of the season. Smith has only played in one game this spring.

After he will head to Triple-A while Adrian Gonzalez plays first base. Smith had an opportunity to start at first base but will have to hope Gonzalez struggles if he wants a chance to play with the Mets in 2018. Smith will likely return to game action in mid-April.

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Michael Conforto (shoulder) will open the season on the disabled list but can return before May. Conforto has been swinging the bat well and homered in the split squad the Mets played on Monday. Conforto’s return is now mid-April and will bolster the Mets offense and elevate their talented outfield.

T.J. Rivera (right elbow) and David Wright (shoulder and back) remain injured and there has been no update on their recoveries.

 

New York Mets 40-Man Roster Overview: Paul Sewald

Paul Sewald, the 27-year old reliever, will likely be one of the last few relievers to make the New York Mets roster. He had an up and down rookie season with the Mets and will try to look for more consistency in the 2018 season.

Sewald Has Been A Lifelong Met:

The  Mets drafted Sewald in the 10th round of the 2012 MLB Draft from the University of San Diego. The Mets Sewald sent to the Brooklyn Cyclones and excelled in his first year of professional baseball. He had a 1.88 ERA and only walked two batters in 28.2 innings.

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He earned a promotion to the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2013 and was just as strong with a 1.77 ERA and picked up eight saves. His control was something that made him stand out, only walking seven batters in 56 innings. Outside of 4.1 innings with the Binghamton Mets, Sewald played with the St. Lucie Mets in 2014 and 1.92 ERA with 11 saves.

Sewald continued to dominate with the B-Mets the next year with a 1.75 ERA and 24 saves which earned him and Eastern League All-Star selection. 2016 was his last full year in the minors and he spent it with the Las Vegas 51s. His ERA rose to 3.29, as most do, but the Mets still had plans for Sewald’s future with the organization.

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Sewald’s Mets Debut:

In 2017, the  Mets called-up and sent down Sewald a couple of times in April but spend the rest of the year with the Mets. From May through September, Sewald would have a good then a bad month. He never found the consistency that he was able to show in the minor leagues. He finished the 2017 season with a 4.55 ERA but pitched 65.1 innings out of the bullpen.

Sewald has had a solid Spring Training with a 3.75 ERA in the 12 innings he has pitched. Sewald is likely going to be a middle reliever this season potentially is an underrated reliever for the Mets. The fans and organization seem to think highly of Sewald because they did not trade him for Cleveland Indians second baseman, Jason Kipnis. Fans around the league should not be surprised if he has a breakout season in 2018.