Vic Black's 2015 season has been a major disappointment. Black, acquired in the trade that sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates in 2013, was expected to be a valuable component in the Mets bullpen for years to come. However, injuries have derailed his season. He started out the year on the disabled list with a variety of injuries to his shoulder, neck, and groin. Although deemed healthy now, his numbers at Triple-A Las Vegas are disconcerting.
The 25-year-old is sporting an unsightly 8.02 ERA while opponents are hitting a healthy .307 against him. What's even more troubling is the number of walks he's issuing: 20 free passes in just 21 innings. Additionally, in only 11 of his 25 relief appearances has Black not handed out a free pass. To go along with his troubling walk numbers, the reliever has given up 27 hits in his 21 innings. All told, Black is allowing more than two baserunners per inning.
There was, however, a stretch where it looked like Black may have figured things out in late July and early August. He went 10 appearances spanning 9.1 innings without yielding a run, though he still walked five batters in the same stretch. Then just as Black may have thought he righted the ship, he gave up runs in three consecutive outings—six runs in just 1.1 innings. Black failed to record an out in one of those appearances.
The hard-throwing right hander has been consistently inconsistent. While the Mets still need to fortify their bullpen bridge between their starters and Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia, Vic Black doesn't seem to be the answer. Mets relievers already have a 3.45 BB/9 ratio, which ranks in the bottom ten in all of baseball. If walks continue to be a problem for Black, the Mets will need to look elsewhere to shore up their bullpen.
As a reminder of what Black is capable of, he finished an injury-shortened 2014 with a 2.60 ERA over 34.2 innings.