The New York Mets continue adding to their bullpen as they’re nearing an agreement with veteran left-handed reliever, Jake Diekman, as first reported by Will Sammon and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic on Thursday.
The 37-year-old had a dreadful start to the 2023 season with the Chicago White Sox, posting a 7.94 ERA across 13 appearances (11.1 innings) before getting released in May. He was picked up shortly after by the Tampa Bay Rays, where he seemed to figure it out.
In 50 appearances (45.1 innings pitched), Diekman put up a 2.18 ERA with 53 strikeouts and a 1.125 WHIP where he performed in a versatile role — pitching in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.
There has been an issue with his control, however. His 15.6% walk rate was in the first percentile in the majors last season. His chase rate isn’t much better at the fourth percentile.
With a four-seam fastball and sinker that averages approximately 95 mph, Diekman’s sweeper has also become a reliable tertiary pitch in which opponents batted just .161 against it. It’s made him one of the hardest pitchers to record hard contact against.
In 2023, his hard-hit rate of 27.1% was in MLB’s 99th percentile while his average exit velocity of 84.6 was in the 98th percentile and his .199 expected batting average was in the 94th.
He becomes an intriguing option as a potential bridge option in the eighth inning for closer Edwin Diaz. Across 14 appearances last season in which he pitched only the eighth inning, Diekman allowed just a single run.
Bringing on the veteran southpaw allows the Mets to have another potential dependable left-handed option alongside Brooks Raley, who put forth a solid debut showing in Queens last season.
This is the third notable acquisition of note for New York’s bullpen, which is steeped in uncertainty heading toward the 2024 season. After signing former All-Star Jorge Lopez, coming off a season in which significantly regressed, Adam Ottavino was brought back on a one-year deal last week. Michael Tonkin and Yohan Ramirez were also brought in as depth pieces.