Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted that a talent evaluator had told him he would put money on the Mets to reach the World Series last week, an odd take even during the Mets hot streak with the existence of the LA Dodgers. Signing Brad Brach and Joe Panik, both DFA’d in the last week, is unlikely to have a huge impact on this evaluator’s prediction coming true, but the increased depth in areas of weakness can help them push for October.
It is unfortunate that the injuries in the infield and outfield have happened in the first August that waiver trades are not allowed. Robinson Cano is most likely out for the season after tearing his hamstring just as he was getting hot, Dom Smith has a stress reaction in his foot, Brandon Nimmo has been out since May with neck problems and everyone is wondering if Jed Lowrie actually exists.
These injuries have led to it being necessary to have one of Adeiny Hechavarria (62 OPS+), Aaron Altherr (21 OPS+), Luis Guillorme (4 OPS+) or Juan Lagares (42 OPS+). This essentially leads to having two pitchers’ spots, and the ones not playing offer no threat off the bench.
This is where Joe Panik comes in. He was DFA’d by the Giants on Tuesday after hitting .235 with an OPS+ of 70. He is a previous Gold Glover and All-Star, but compared to the aforementioned options, Panik is better even if he continues as he has the season. His strikeout rate is only 9.8%, suggesting he is still making contact as he was in his successful seasons, and the Mets will hope he can catch fire in August and September.
The Mets bullpen has been a liability all season, with a 5.04 era which is ranked 26th in the league (as of 9/8/19). The main issue has been the struggles of preseason 8th and 9th inning guys Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz. However, the depth arms that have moved between Syracuse and New York have also been poor. All of Chris Flexen, Tyler Bashlor, Drew Gagnon and Brooks Pounders have been used as the 7th and 8th men in the pen, and all sport ERAs around 7.
Brad Brach brings 466 games of major league experience and a career 3.32 era, mainly with the Orioles. Despite his 6+ era this season with the Cubs, he is still an intriguing arm, in part because of past success. His FIP is nearly 2 runs lower than his ERA which shows an element of misfortune, and his strikeout rate has increased to over 10 per 9 innings pitched this season. His biggest issue is walking 3 per 9 more than last year, and his OPS against is just .626 against right handers but north of 1.000 against lefties. If pitching coach Phil Reagan can help Brach to reduce the walks and Mickey Callaway can use him just against righties, the reliever can be valuable to the Mets.
If these moves alongside the return of Nimmo and Smith can get the Mets into the postseason, anything can happen in October with their rotation.