Trevor May will forever have the distinction of being the first MLB signing by the Mets in the Steve Cohen era. The fireballing reliever inked a 2-year, $15 million contract in early December with the Mets after several seasons of being a solid reliever with the Twins. The 31-year-old signed on to be a high-leverage reliever and brought with him a heavy online presence, with an active Twitter account, not one, but two YouTube channels that he uploads to frequently, a podcast, and a Twitch channel that he streams on several times per week.
While he was providing the content for his followers, making game day vlogs and streaming MLB: The Show on his off days, May’s first season in Queens on the field was a bit of a bumpy ride. He ended with a completely respectable 3.59 ERA and 11.92 K/9, both of which are pretty much right in line with his career norms. But it was a little rough to see how the sausage was made here.
Walks and homers have always been a bugaboo for May, and 2021 was no exception. His walk rate of 9.0% and HR/9 of 1.44 were both only slightly above his career norms, and are both considered well below-average. That lack of command predictably led to inconsistencies all season long. May had eight outings where he gave up at least two runs, with several of them coming within mere days of each other. He gave up 3 runs in back-to-back outings in August, a month that he had a 6.35 ERA in, and followed that up by posting a 2.38 ERA across September and October. He also put up 12 straight scoreless outings from April 6 to May 7, which was followed up by a stretch where he allowed 9 earned runs and 5 homers across 9.1 innings pitched from May 11 to June 14. He then had 10 more consecutive scoreless outings from June 16 to July 11.
So it goes for May. He has always had good stuff, with a hard fastball/slider combo that has always induced whiffs, which is how he earns his money. But lack of command results in inconsistencies, which have held him back from being a truly elite reliever in his career.
For what it’s worth, May has always been astute enough to identify what exactly he is doing wrong, and fixing it. For example, after suffering injuries early in his career, he adapted a more yoga and pilates based training regimen. He now frequently references how much care he takes of his body, and he hasn’t been on the injured list since he returned from Tommy John surgery in 2018. He has also made a video about how he realized he was tipping his pitches at certain points of 2021, and detailed what he did to fix it. It seems like May is astute enough to be aware of his weaknesses, so we’ll see if he can work on his control issues going into next season. Regardless, the Mets should plan to use May as more of a mid-leverage reliever in 2022 than a true high-leverage guy.
In the meantime, expect to continue hearing from the effervescent reliever over the offseason, who is only going to ramp up his online presence. It’s an enjoyable presence at that, as he is an entertaining personality who is not afraid to be earnest, and can even be helpful and educational. It’s usually a net positive when players can be humanized and cultivate relationships with their fanbase like May has, and it’s fun when they can be entertaining in ways other than just playing baseball.