While the 2009 season as a whole was a lost cause for the New York Mets, it did hold some significance for certain players on the team.
One of those players was reliever Brian Stokes .
Last season, Stokes, 30, appeared in a career-high 69 games and pitched 70.1 innings, which were also the most in his four-year career.
All the while, the hard throwing right-hander was able to maintain a 3.97 ERA, which isn’t all that spectacular, but certainly is acceptable.
The main concern with Stokes was that he was inconsistent at times. During the start of the season, the young pitcher was lights out, as he did not allow an earned run throughout his first 12 innings pitched.
He continued his successful run well into the middle of May, where he accumulated an ERA of 0.52. Unfortunately, he took a couple steps back on May 24th against the Red Sox, in which he allowed five earned runs in only 1.1 innings.
September was by far Stokes’s worst month on the mound, as he was roughed up by the Rockies, Cubs and Nationals. In total, for the month, Stokes allowed 10 earned runs in 11 innings pitched, which equates to a nasty ERA of 8.18.
It seems as if September is not the month for Brian Stokes. Even in 2008, his ERA was nearly two runs higher in September than it was in August.
One reason behind this is that the pitcher may be tiring out. Nonetheless, when looking to build a contender, you need players that can step up their game for a playoff push.
I had read recently that Stokes could be under consideration to be the team’s setup man next season. Despite the fact that I am a fan of the pitcher, I do not think this role is appropriate for him.
Setup men generally are power pitchers who throw hard and strike out batters frequently. While Stokes may be a power pitcher, his strike out numbers could use improvement.
Last year, he had a 45:38 K/BB ratio, which is OK for an average reliever, but you would want more out of a setup man.
To me, Stokes is an average, to slightly above average, middle reliever. Keep in mind though, unlike other positions, a 30-year-old relief pitcher is still considered very young. Thus, there is a lot of time for improvement.
This season, Stokes made somewhere just north of $400K, which is hardly anything in terms of baseball money. He should be looking at a similar salary next season before he heads for his arbitration year following the 2010 season.
The fact that Stokes is still young and has had success under the tutelage of pitching coach Dan Warthen, coupled with the fact that he earns a relatively low salary, makes Stokes an ideal choice to round out one of the final spots in next year’s bullpen.
As in the case of Sean Green , if Stokes struggles, the team can afford to let him go and replace him with someone else, without having to suffer a significant financial burden.