Manny Acosta: Right-Hander Was New York Mets' Top Reliever Down the Stretch

Alex SchuhartCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2012

MIAMI, FL - MAY 13:  Manny Acosta #46 of the New York Mets looks on during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on May 13, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Marlins defeated the Mets 8-4.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

To say Manny Acosta started the 2012 season poorly is an understatement. He didn’t just struggle; he was historically bad. As the year progressed, however, his lot improved drastically—but not until after a painful first couple months.

Few New York Mets pitchers had an ERA to start a season worse than his (11.86) after as many games as he had pitched (19). By the end of May, opposing batters hit .361 against him, got on base nearly 50 percent of the time and slugged .588 against the hapless pitcher.

In the first 19 games he pitched, the Mets were 6-13. Unsurprisingly, he was demoted to the minor leagues and spent June and most of July with Triple-A Buffalo.

But, as the season wound down and the rest of the bullpen struggled, things turned around for the 31-year-old reliever.

He was recalled to the big leagues in late July after the Mets designated reliever Pedro Beato, who also struggled mightily, for assignment. In four games that month, he posted a 2.08 ERA.

It was a small sample, for sure, but it was a sign that things were turning around for the pitcher, who had allowed 35 hits and six home runs in the 22 innings before his demotion.

Come August, it was clear his turnaround was the real deal. While the rest of the bullpen was mediocre at best—reliever Ramon Ramirez had a 3.72 ERA for the month—and atrocious at worst—closer Frank Francisco’s ERA was 9.82—Acosta continued to dominate, posting a 2.08 ERA in eight August appearances. He allowed runs in only one of the games he pitched.

He was slowly regaining the trust of skipper Terry Collins, who used him sparingly compared to the rest of the bullpen that month.

And things were only getting better.

To start September, he tossed a scoreless frame against the Marlins, striking out each of the batters he faced. Two games later, he gave up a single run—it would be the last run he allowed for the rest of the month.

From September 11 to September 30, Acosta appeared in eight games and held batters to a .100 batting average. In September and October combined, he worked 14 games, posted a 1.46 ERA and held opposing batsmen to a .159 mark.

From July 24—his first game after being recalled to the majors—to the end of the season, the Dominican Republic native pitched in 26 games and posted a 1.78 ERA. He allowed only 13 hits in 25.1 innings, keeping opposing batters to a .148 average.

Compare his performance during that latter stretch to the rest of the bullpen—Jon Rauch had a 3.52 ERA, Ramirez posted a 3.70 mark, Josh Edgin was at 4.58 and Francisco’s mark was 6.75. Only Bobby Parnell and his 1.61 ERA rivaled Acosta’s performance, but Acosta outpaced him in strikeouts, batting average against, OPS against and number of walks allowed.

With his horrid performance to begin the season, Acosta left a bad taste in many Mets fans’ mouths. He was thoroughly abominable and, due to his poor start, finished the year with an unimpressive stat line overall—45 games, 1-3 record, 6.46 ERA.

But his end-of-the-year performance was as stellar as his start of the season was terrible—he was arguably the best reliever on the team during the last two months of the season.

Acosta has been with the Mets since 2010, and he performed well during his first two seasons with the team by posting a 3.22 ERA in 85 games.  

Though his 2012 season hurts his career numbers overall, his performance down the stretch may make the Mets want to consider bringing Acosta—who is eligible for arbitration this year—back for another go-around.

He was, after all, their best relief pitcher in 2012—if only for part of the season.