Tyler Bashlor’s 2018 was a mixed bag. He built off a breakout 2017 with 24 excellent relief innings in Double-A that led to a major league call-up. That alone was impressive, given that he missed more than two seasons after Tommy John surgery and progressed through the system in effectively two-and-a-half years once healthy. Unfortunately, his 32 major league innings were a disaster, as his strikeout rate plummeted and his home run rate soared. Bashlor’s 4.22 ERA wasn’t horrific, but a 5.44 FIP and a 126.9 DRA- paint a more accurate picture that is not as kind.
While those ugly innings matter, Bashlor still has potential. Despite a short, stocky frame, he consistently pumps his fastball in the high-90s. Since his relative lack of height prevents him from generating great downward plane, it’s a pitch best used in top of the strike zone, something that Bashlor is solid at already. However, he left his fastball over the heart of the plate too often last season, and got punished for it - emblematic of the struggles with command that dogged him throughout his minor league career. In terms of his off speed pitches, Bashlor throws has a slider he throws about 30% of the time and a changeup he hardly uses. He’s improved the slider over the last couple seasons, but it’s an unremarkable pitch, and he’ll need to improve it further to have a real shot at a late inning role.
We ranked Bashlor as the 12th-best prospect in the system going into 2018 and spoke about his potential upside as a closer. He’s now much closer to a middle reliever in terms of likely outcomes given what we saw last year, and at nearly 26, there’s not a ton of time left for him to make the necessary improvements to his command and offspeed offerings. A cost-controlled middle reliever still has value, particularly in the bullpen-heavy modern game, but it’s not as exciting.
Yesterday, Bashlor was optioned to minor league camp, and he’ll be among a handful of arms that will jockey for major league time as shuttle arms or injury replacements. Unless there are significant injury problems in the Mets’ bullpen, Bashlor will most likely spend much of his season in the minors and snag 10-to-20 innings as a guy who gets optioned multiple times throughout the season and who soaks up some September innings when rosters expand.