Paul Sewald was a rare bright spot on the 2017 Mets. After being called up for the second time in early May, he remained with the big league club for the rest of the year while establishing himself as a solid arm in the Mets’ pen.
Sewald had success at every minor league level before joining the Mets. In six seasons and 266.1 innings of work, the right-hander posted an impressive 2.20 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and 0.5 HR/9. Sewald carried those strong peripherals with him to the major league level, which is what made his rookie season so encouraging.
Admittedly, Sewald’s 4.55 ERA with the Mets doesn’t jump off the page. However, the righty’s 110 ERA- indicates that, in this year’s strong offensive environment, his ERA was only slightly worse than league average. Sewald’s 3.74 FIP (87 FIP-) was actually better than league average, and reflected his ability to strike batters out (9.51 K/9) while limiting walks (2.89 BB/9) and home runs (1.10 HR/9). Of the 10 Mets pitchers to reach the 50-inning plateau, only Jacob deGrom posted better fielding-independent metrics.
Sewald achieved his success primarily with a four-seam fastball that averaged 91 mph and that accounted for about two-thirds of his pitches. The sidearmer threw a slider about a third of the time, while occasionally mixing in a changeup.
Believe it or not, Sewald pitched more innings (65.1) than any Mets reliever this year and appeared in more games (57) than any Mets pitcher except for Jerry Blevins. Not many people would’ve predicted that in spring training. Nevertheless, Sewald outperformed expectations and turned in a very serviceable rookie year for the Mets.
Sewald was essentially a league-average pitcher who ate a lot of innings out of the pen. That’s a valuable commodity to have on a major league team, and a similar role to the one Hansel Robles played in both 2015 and 2016. Sewald’s successful rookie campaign certainly earned him a spot in next year’s bullpen, and it’ll be interesting to see how he builds on that success in 2018.