Chris Flexen’s third major league season was a mostly forgettable one for him and the Mets. He posted an 8.45 ERA with a 2.15 WHIP in 54.1 innings between 2017 and 2018, and even though his 2019 numbers were slightly better (6.59 ERA and 2.05 WHIP in 13.2 innings), little about Flexen’s outings suggested progress.
If there was one moment worth remembering from his 2019 season, it came on May 4 in an 18-inning marathon in Milwaukee. After the Mets took the lead on a Jeff McNeil single in the top of the 18th, Flexen was sent back out for a second inning of work to try and seal the deal. Leadoff walks are the cardinal sin of relief pitching, and the 25-year-old showed that he still had a lot to learn when he walked the leadoff man and then two more Brewers for good measure. Ryan Braun put the final nail in Flexen’s coffin with a two-run single to walk it off for Milwaukee — a team that absolutely completely deserved to make the Wild Card — and confirmed that Flexen might not be major league material just yet.
Flexen’s major league sample size was rather tiny in 2019, allowing 10 earned runs and 13 walks in 13.2 innings of work. Limiting baserunners is what has held Flexen back the most, as he has a career 2.13 WHIP in 68 innings. The Mets seem realistic about Flexen’s role on the team, as it took an 18-inning game for him to pitch in any situation of consequence in 2019. Chances are that Flexen will spend most of 2020 back in Triple-A Syracuse, where his numbers were nearly identical to what he posted in Triple-A Las Vegas in 2018 (4.40 ERA in 2018 vs. 4.46 in 2019, 1.50 WHIP in both seasons).
At the moment, it seems like Flexen is what he is, although the one possible silver lining was how he raised his fastball velocity to a career-high 94.5 MPH and his slider to 88.3 MPH in 2019. It’s hard to see Flexen ever being a reliable arm out of the Mets bullpen, however a team — especially the Mets — can never have too much bullpen depth, and don’t be surprised if Flexen gets a couple more chances in 2020.