How the Mets Bullpen Stacks Up with Return of Adam Ottavino

The New York Mets have been one of the most active teams this offseason, and that continued with the team’s most recent signing. Reliever Adam Ottavino is the latest to ink a deal with the Mets, returning to Flushing on a two-year deal. The move brings back one of the game’s better relievers to a re-aligned, yet strong and deep bullpen.

Related: What Comes Next After the Red Sox’s Agreement with Justin Turner

A Look at Ottavino

When clicking, Adam Ottavino has the stuff to be one of the game’s best relievers. The New York native broke out as a member of the Rockies in the 2010’s, thanks to an impressive arsenal and a tough delivery to pick up. Ottavino’s signature season came in 2018, in which the righty struck out 112 and recorded a WHIP south of one in 2018.

That season earned him a multi-year contract with the Yankees in the winter of 2018, a deal that yielded mixed results for the Bronx Bombers. Ottavino had a tremendous first season (1.90 ERA, 31.1% K%) in The Bronx, but struggled in the 2020 (5.89 ERA) campaign. In a rarity, New York would trade Ottavino to rival Boston in the winter of 2020. The Northeastern product went on to have modest success with the Red Sox (4.21 ERA across 62 IP) in 2021.

Ottavino inked a one-year deal with the Mets in March 2022, a move that worked remarkably well. Across 65.2 innings, Ottavino pitched to the tune of a 2.06 ERA. A couple of interesting notes from last season; one, Ottavino’s walk rate was quite low. Traditionally a pitcher with questionable control, the right-hander produced a walk rate of just 6.2% last season. The 37-year-old displayed solid control, a key to the success he had in 2022.

Another interesting note from last season was the slightly increased usage of changeup. The New Yorker didn’t use the changeup as much as his slider & fastball, the crux of the righty’s arsenal. But in 2021, Ottavino used the change less than 2% of the time. Last season, the change was used 7.1%. Ottavino is stilly mainly a two-pitch reliever, but the third pitch did help in certain circumstances: the pitch had a Whiff% rate of 43.3%.

The 37-year-old became a key piece of the Mets’ bullpen in 2022. The reliever’s arsenal of a boomerang-slider, and a mid-90’s fastball that appears a bit faster than the number thanks to his extension, proved yet again to be successful. Now, Ottavino returns back home to New York City.

What it Means

The return of Ottavino helps solidify a Mets bullpen that will look quite different come next season. After the Mets’ loss to San Diego in the NL Wild Card round, nearly every major piece in the Mets’ pen was set to become a free agent. New York won’t see Joely Rodriguez (Red Sox) or Mychal Givens (Orioles) run, nor will setup man Seth Lugo. Lugo recently agreed to head to the Padres, a team that appears set to give the right-hander a chance to become a starter once more.

With Ottavino in the fold, here’s a look at the Mets bullpen alignment as of now:

Other options for the pen included the recently signed Jimmy Yacabonis, Tommy Hunter, hard-throwing prospect Bryce Montes de Oca, and starters David Peterson and Tylor Megill. With the Mets’ rotation virtually set for 2023, the latter two seem more than likely to fill bullpen/depth starter roles for New York.

Ottavino and Robertson both excelled last season, putting the two in good position to set up for reigning NL Reliever of the Year Edwin Diaz. Drew Smith (3.33 ERA, 10.4 K/9 in 46 IP) performed well last season, as did new Mets reliever Brooks Raley. The lefty thrived as a member of the Tampa Bays Rays’ bullpen last season. Raley struck out 61 in 53.2 IP, and recorded a WHIP of just 0.97. Plus, Raley’s 2022 numbers against left-handed hitters (.155/.200/282) were strong, as well, and should help the Mets in an area of weakness.

The Mets have spent plenty of money over the past few weeks, locking down the likes of Justin Verlander, Brandon Nimmo, and Japanese standout Kodai Senga. Steve Cohen and company many not be done yet with the bullpen, as rumors circulate around Liam Hendriks‘ future in Chicago. But as things stand right now, the Mets’ bullpen looks rather solid as the team enters 2023.

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