The Mets signed right-handed reliever Trevor May to a two-year deal following the 2020 season. The expectation was that he would be a key member of their bullpen, essentially pitching in the later innings and setting up closer Edwin Díaz in most cases, especially when Seth Lugo was unavailable.
May, who spent his entire career with the Twins before coming to New York, was floundering early in his career before having Tommy John Surgery in 2017. Upon returning in 2018, May pitched to a 3.19 ERA, a 3.56 FIP, and a 1.08 WHIP over the next three seasons. In a career-best 2019 campaign, he posted a 2.94 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 64 1⁄3 innings. Given his career renaissance post-Tommy John, and his uptick in strikeouts—he struck out 32.9% of batters he faced from 2018 through 2020—it seemed like a good bet by the Mets.
In his first year in New York, he pitched to a 3.59 ERA, a 3.74 FIP, and a 1.26 WHIP, with a career-high 83 strikeouts in 62 2⁄3 innings. It was a solid season overall, so expectations were he would have similar success in his second season in New York. That did not come to pass, as he scuffled right out of the gate. He gave up runs in each of his first two appearances, and then had back-to-back outings later in April in which he allowed two earned runs in each. In his first eight outings, he only struck out five batters and allowed eight earned runs in 8 1⁄3 innings. On May 4, he was diagnosed with a stress reaction on the lower portion of his humerus,and he was shut down for four weeks, which ended up being three months.
After 93 days, he returned on August 3 with a scoreless outing against the Nationals. In his next appearance, he allowed an earned run in one inning against the Braves. He was inconsistent following his return, showing glimpses of the pitcher he was but ultimately struggling while allowing four earned runs in 9 1⁄3 innings. He had put together three scoreless outings in a row, including back-to-back outings with two strikeouts, before landing on the IL yet again, this time for COVID-19.
He returned 11 days later and made nine appearances down the stretch. That was probably his best run of 2022, as he tossed up goose eggs in eight of those nine relief outings. In total, he gave up two earned runs over his final 7 1⁄3 innings to close out 2022. He made two appearances in the Wild Card round against the Padres, hurling 2 1⁄3 shutout innings while striking out four and walking one.
Interestingly, he pitched just about the same number of innings in each of his three brief stints this year, and he cut his earned runs allowed in half each time. He allowing eight earned runs in 8 1⁄3 innings (8.64 ERA) before the stress reaction diagnosis, four earned runs in 9 1⁄3 innings (3.86 ERA) in his initial return, and two earned runs in 7 1⁄3 innings (2.45 ERA) to close out the year. May expressed frustration at his second IL stint for stunting the progress, and he was mostly right, as his results were approving with each outing. It’s clear the injury early in the year was affecting his performance, and it’s hard to say what he could have contributed if he had been healthy all year. Perhaps his final numbers would have more closely resembled his 2021 output.
May hits free agency this winter, and it’s likely he’s thrown his last pitch in a Mets uniform. With the team needing to rebuild essentially their entire bullpen, there is the chance the right-hander can find his way back into orange and blue, but it’s just as likely that they will look elsewhere to improve their beleaguered bullpen.