One of the many pitchers that were paraded out to the mound at one point or another during the Mets' chaotic 2008 season, Brian Stokes seemed to come out of nowhere to impress many fans with his ability to flat-out get the job done.
After posting an earned-run average under 3.00 in 23 relief appearances throughout August and September, Stokes' spot in the 2009 bullpen is practically his to lose.
Acquired from Tampa Bay for cash considerations on Nov. 28, 2007, Stokes started the season with the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans after being designated for assignment on the last day of spring training in 2008.
As a starter for the Zephyrs, Stokes compiled a 10-8 record with a 4.41 earned-run average over 130 innings. The numbers weren't overly impressive, but due to an injury that landed RHP John Maine on the disabled list, Stokes was called up on August 9, 2008 to make the start against the Florida Marlins.
From there, Stokes was moved to the bullpen, where he would finish the 2008 season as one of the many relievers without a defined role. His job every day? Wherever Jerry Manuel felt like using him.
While a great pitcher most of the time, like every other pitcher in the bullpen, he struggled against the other side of the plate, allowing left-handed batters to bat .316/.391/.509 in 57 at-bats.
Yet another bullet in the chamber for Jerry Manuel's Flushing Roulette.
Now, in 2009, Stokes looks to solidify his presence in the Mets' revamped bullpen. His role will be clearly defined as an early-innings guy, as long as Putz and Rodriguez are both healthy enough to shut down the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
Because his role should be better understood this season, Stokes may very well be a pleasant surprise for the Amazin's in 2009.
2008 Stats (as a reliever):
23 G, 1-0, 1 SV, 2.93 ERA, 27.2 IP, 20 SO
32 G, 1-1, 3.45 ERA, 45.2 IP, 34 SO