Before spring training this year, Josh Edgin was not on the typical Mets fan's radar. The 25-year-old lefty had been successful in the minors in 2010 and 2011, but given his age and the relative level of competition, there was at least a little cause for skepticism.
At 24, Edgin split his season almost exactly evenly between Single-A Savannah and High-A St. Lucie. He was slightly better with Savannah, but he racked up 10.4 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, and a 1.50 ERA in 66.0 innings of work. It stood to reason that Edgin would get a promotion to Double-A Binghamton to begin the 2012 season, but his dominance in spring training games garnered quite a bit of attention.
Edgin still started the year with Binghamton, but he threw only 6.1 innings before getting a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo. He struggled with control there — 4.4 BB/9 — but maintained a very good 9.7 K/9 and posted a reasonable 3.89 ERA in 36.0 innings. Then he got called up to join the Mets and made his debut on July 13.
Since then, Edgin has been mostly dominant, though that might not be obvious from his 5.14 ERA. When it comes to relief pitchers, ERA can be incredibly deceptive because it might take months for pitcher to reduce his ERA after just one poor outing, and that's not including the wild statistical fluctuation that can contribute to the metric in the small-sample world in which relief pitchers live.
But Edgin has impressed in his first 14.0 innings with the Mets. He already has 22 strikeouts — that's 14.1 K/9 — and a 3.31 FIP and 2.27 xFIP that suggest he's been significantly better than his ERA. Glen Perkins was in a similar spot early in his 2012 season. Edgin's track record is, of course, not anywhere near as long as Perkins's, but his ability to strike out opponents is more likely than not to make him stick as a viable late-inning option in the big leagues.
Edgin's strikeout rates in the minors indicate that his astronomically high rate thus far with the Mets is likely to come down. But right now, he's one of just eighteen relief pitchers in Mets history to post a 10-plus K/9 with in at least 14.0 innings of work. Of the players on that list, only Rick Aguilera, Randy Myers, and Grant Roberts were drafted by the Mets. Homegrown high-strikeout relief pitchers just haven't been common in Mets history, which makes Edgin's emergence all the more exciting.
There are no guarantees about Edgin's future, but he is for now at least a reason to think that the Mets' bullpen will be better with him than it was without him. The more young, cost-controlled relief pitchers like Edgin and Bobby Parnell the Mets have on the roster, the better. If the team's resources are still limited, spending less money on relief pitchers in general would go a long way towards making the Mets a contender again.
For more on Edgin, check out John Sickels's review of his rookie campaign.