Heading in to 2019, Ty Bashlor appeared locked in to a middle relief role for the Mets. A prep-pitcher draft pick in 2013 who took his time getting to the majors, this seemed to be an ideal role for the six foot righty, giving him a chance to continue to grow after dominating the high minors and surviving a brief cameo at the end of 2018. Instead, Bashlor crashed and burned, logging only 22 major league innings with a 6.95 ERA and a ghastly 6.95 BB/9. With that failed season in the rear view mirror, the clock is ticking for a 27-year-old that was once a borderline top-10 prospect in the system.
A decade ago, Bashlor might have stuck out a bit more solely on the strength of his upper-90s fastball. Unfortunately, that’s no longer enough in an age when every contender has five guys that throw 95+ with a slider in their bullpen. Bashlor falls at the lower-end of that spectrum of arms, as his slider is an inconsistent, low 80’s offering, while his control remains a serious problem. Compared to the potential closer profile we waxed poetic about for several seasons in prospect blurbs, Bashlor’s current arsenal is disappointing to say the least.
Aside from stating the obvious - Bashlor’s command and control needs to be better - there are some more useful changes we can recommend. Looking back to his (marginally) more successful time in 2018, there’s one particularly obvious adjustment; ditch the awful changeup. Bashlor threw his change less than four percent of the time in 2018, then increased that mark almost ten percent in 2019. Batters weren’t fooled, shellacking the pitch and rarely whiffing. It’s not as if Bashlor’s fastball was all that effective either, but it’s certainly a better pitch than what is currently a non-viable offering in his changeup, and there’s a path to a middle-relief role if he simplifies his arsenal to a two-pitch mix.
As we’ve repeatedly pointed out in previews this year, the shortened season is going to put even more stress on a pitching staff that didn’t have the best depth to begin with. As such, Bashlor will almost certainly get several more cracks at sticking in the major league bullpen even if he doesn’t significantly improve. Hopefully the more experienced arms at the back of the bullpen will keep Bashlor locked into low-leverage spots where he can continue to refine his craft, working towards the upside we were once so excited to see.