The Mets bullpen started off the year as an Achilles' heel, causing some big losses on terrific starts by Jon Niese and Chris Young, but turned things around on the back of closer Francisco Rodriguez who is having a monstrous year.
Coinciding with the injury to Pedro Beato, things went back to being bad, mainly as a result of having to rely on Ryota Igarashi so much. With Beato back and Igarashi gone, things are getting back on track now with the Mets sitting comfortably with the 11th best bullpen ERA in baseball.
With the poor starting rotation they have this year, however, there cannot be even one weak link in the pen. Management has done a good job weeding out the bad seeds by DFAing Blaine Boyer, sending Igarashi back down to Triple-A and getting fortunate that Bobby Parnell found his way off the roster due to injury.
There is one more change they can make to push the bullpen to the next level.
Pat Misch was terrible for Buffalo early in the year, but needed to be called up because of the need for a long man/spot starter with all the injuries affecting both the rotation and pen, as well as the Mets having to deal with double headers. Not surprisingly, he hasn't fared much better since being called up, posting a 7.50 ERA and showing a lack of command, which he needs to succeed.
Michael O'Connor has been given a chance and has emerged as a viable option out of the pen, having yet to give up a run in seven appearances.
O'Connor is death on lefties thanks to his nontraditional delivery and is showing the ability to get out righties as well. O'Connor, along with Tim Byrdak, gives the Mets two good left-handed options out of the pen making Misch expendable.
Enter the mustache wonder Dale Thayer. Thayer is a 30-year-old career minor leaguer who has been terrific at every level he has pitched in the minors, and unfairly has been given just a couple tastes of coffee at the big league level.
He is no junkballer either, with good stuff including a fastball that sits 91-94 mph and true plus pitch in a slider.
Thayer has continued his minor league success this year posting terrific numbers in Buffalo going 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 20 games, pitching 26.1 innings, striking out 25 men and showing amazing command by walking just six batters.
The only thing Thayer has going against him is he is not a member of the 40-man roster. The Mets have two things they can do to accommodate room for Thayer on the roster: They can DFA Igarashi, who is sure to go unclaimed, and send Misch down to the minors with the odds of him opting out being very slim, or just DFA Misch, which would essentially cut ties with him from the organization.
With the way he has been pitching, Thayer has earned a spot in the bullpen. With the precedent Sandy Alderson has already set having a short leash on players that don't produce, Misch is making it an easy decision to give the journeyman reliever his first legitimate shot at being a major league reliever.
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