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Trevor May should bolster the back end of the Mets’ bullpen

The streamer/music producer/hard thrower joins the Mets after leaving Minnesota.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

It is always a nice thing when your team signs someone who seems like a good person, and so when the Mets added Trevor May to their all-time vibiest team, it was celebrated both for his performance and his personality. A Twitch streamer of the highest caliber and an electronic music producer to boot, May is that rare professional athlete that seems to have multiple careers lined up for when he eventually can’t throw the baseball anymore. He’s also an interesting and engaging interview subject, and so covering Trevor May, the person, seems like it will be a lot of fun.

But there’s also lots of reasons to be optimistic about covering Trevor May, the pitcher. After returning from Tommy John surgery in the 2018 season, May has been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. On a very surface level, he does exactly what you want a relief pitcher to do: he strikes folks out, doesn’t give up a lot of walks, limits hard contact, and has more balls hit on the ground than in the air.

After ditching his curveball - in part due to a Dom Smith home run - May’s slider has become his main off-speed offering, and led to a career-high strikeout percentage in 2020, 39.6%. Small sample size caveats apply, but that isn’t outrageously off his post-Tommy John numbers, with 35.0% in 2018 and 29.7% in 2019.

As our Lukas Vlahos pointed out when he signed, that also led to a slight spike in his HR/9 rate, as well as significant rise in his line-drive rate. Again, due to the shortened season, it is hard to tell if this was simply some noise in 23.1 innings or a significant change due to his pitch selection.

What will likely help May’s 2021 performance is a reunion with Jeremy Hefner, who was on the Twins’ coaching staff when May made his big turnaround in 2018 and 2019. May himself has mentioned being excited to reconnect with Hefner, and it isn’t hard to imagine that such a reunion was part of the reason May wanted to play for the Mets.

Whatever the reason, May is going to be a big part of the Mets’ bullpen in 2021. With Seth Lugo out for the first few weeks of the season at a minimum, May is going to be the primary eighth inning man early in the season. If Edwin Diaz can prove that 2019 was a fluke, May and Diaz would represent a solid backend of the bullpen, and border on and elite one when Lugo returns. With so many other question marks among the relief corps, May locking in early would help Mets’ fans exhale a little after the starter leaves a game.