Getty Images/Getty Images
Rounding out the second tier of top Mets starting pitchers is Rick Reed.
Known as "the poor man's Greg Maddux," Reed was one of the best control pitchers the Mets have had in recent years and a dependable innings-eater for the Mets during his five-year stay.
Reed first came up with the Pirates, whom he played for from 1988-1991. However, he did not see much time in the major leagues during any of those years. Reed then played for the Royals in 1992 and part of 1993 before signing with the Rangers in August of 1993. He remained in Texas until May of 1994 when he was claimed off waivers by the Reds. He pitched for the Reds organization through 1995.
During the MLB players strike in 1994-1995, Reed made a bold decision to become a replacement player in 1995 during the strike. He stated that his family was in desperate need of money at this time, and that was the reason he ultimately decided to go against the Players Union and support his family. Reed did not pitch well though and got released.
The Mets then signed Reed to a minor league contract in 1996. He spent the entire year with the Norfolk Tides, the Mets' Triple-A affiliate and improved his pitching with the help of eventual Mets manager Bobby Valentine and pitching coach Bob Apodaca. When Valentine and Apodaca were promoted to the Mets in August of 1996 following the firing of Dallas Green, Reed's moment to shine was just around the corner.
Going into spring training in 1997, Reed was not one of the most likely pitchers to crack the Opening Day rotation. However, Valentine, the new Mets manager had a lot of confidence in Reed, who ended up getting the last spot in the starting rotation. This upset a good number of players, mostly notably longtime closer John Franco, who was the Mets' representative in the Players Union.
However, Reed put that aside and had his long-awaited breakout season that year.
During the 1997 season, Reed went 13-9 with a 2.89 ERA, which was the sixth-best in the league. He became known for his great command, as illustrated by his 113/31 strikeout/walk ratio.
Reed was even better in 1998 as he became a low-profile, but dependable workhorse. He could outperform his more high-profile teammates, but still remained low key at all times. He won a career-high 16 games (16-11 overall) and finished with a 3.48 ERA. He made his first trip to the All-Star Game that year and had an excellent 153/29 strikeout/walk ratio.
However, being that Reed consistently threw strikes, he was also prone to the longball. He gave up 30 home runs that year.
Reed had another solid season in 1999. He went 11-5 that year with a 4.58 ERA. He pitched well during his two postseason starts by winning one and taking a no-decision during the other. He gave up just two runs in each of those outings.
In 2000, Reed continued his success by going 11-5 and lowered his ERA to 4.11. He pitched well during his first postseason start that year in the NLDS, but did not make it past the fourth inning in his only start during the NLCS. In the 2000 World Series, Reed was the starting pitcher in the only game the Mets won. He pitched six innings and gave up just two runs and six hits, but the Mets offense rallied late for the win.
Prior to the 2001 season, Reed had signed a new three-year contract to remain a Met. Unfortunately, this turned out to be short-lived. Reed made his second and final appearance to the All-Star Game that year and went 8-6 with a 3.48 ERA before getting traded to the Twins at the trade deadline for Matt Lawton.
Reed's 2001 season did not end as well once he arrived in Minnesota, but he bounced back and won 15 games in 2002. However, after going 6-12 in 2003, Reed decided to retire from baseball at the age of 38. He had really enjoyed pitching in New York and stated that his love for baseball was not the same after being traded to the Twins.
Since retiring, Reed has been a pitching coach for Marshall University, his alma mater. He has also made a few appearances at Citi Field as part of the Mets' Alumni Association. One of those appearances occurred in 2010 during the 2000 Mets' 10-Year Anniversary Celebration.
Rick Reed may not have been one of the biggest names among the pitchers the Mets have had, but he was certainly one of the more durable pitchers in recent Mets history and someone who certainly exceeded his expectations.