Like much of the Mets’ bullpen in 2021, Trevor May had his rough patches last season, but put forth a very solid overall effort for the Mets in the first year of his two-year, $15.5 million deal with the Mets. He appeared in 68 games last season—a career high—pitching to a 3.59 ERA over 62 2⁄3 innings and racking up 83 strikeouts, 16 holds, and four saves. In 2022, his role will be much the same, serving as the setup man for closer Edwin Díaz while likely getting a few opportunities in save situations himself. The supporting cast around May and Díaz will look a little bit different than last year. The Mets brought on Adam Ottavino to fill the role previously occupied by Jeurys Familia and Aaron Loup departed in free agency after his historic season; his role will likely be filled by some combination of Alex Claudio and Chasen Shreve.
But the biggest difference for May between 2021 and 2022 may be a tweak to his arsenal. He is working on a split-changeup this spring. “I’ve been tinkering with my changeup a lot over the last couple years, just because the straight change has kind of gone out of vogue a little bit,” May said Saturday before his bullpen session. “I’ve leaned really heavily on a certain mix of pitches where it doesn’t really slot in very clearly. So it’s not clear when to throw the straight change. So trying to add something with some depth to play off of my fastball and maybe even create a pretty big difference between the [velocity], too.”
The new split-change has been showing some nasty movement, but the trick for May will be commanding it. But, if he can use it effectively, it could make a huge difference in his season. Opposing batters hit .341 with a .636 slugging percentage against May’s changeup in 2021, but were much less successful against his fastball and slider. If he can turn two effective pitches into three, he has the chance to be an elite setup man for the Mets.
After some travel mishaps delayed May’s arrival in camp, he did finally make it to spring training and has since pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts in Grapefruit League play. Although not in the room during labor negotiations like some of his teammates, May was very active on Twitter during the lockout and when the CBA was finalized he tweeted a three-word message: “Time to go.”
Time to go, indeed.