Mets legend Tommy Hunter looks to make an impact again for the club in 2023, but the competition among his peers is much fiercer than it has been in recent seasons. The 2023 Mets bullpen is much more solidified than it has been in years past. Edwin Díaz took 2022 to reintroduce himself to the league as an elite closer—and was rewarded with a much nicer checking account balance for his troubles. And with noted Brooklynite Adam Ottavino and longtime leverage reliever David Robinson setting him up, the back end of the bullpen is set.
The middle relievers are more up in the air, save for Brooks Raley as the lone lefty. Drew Smith, John Curtiss, Stephen Nogosek, Elieser Hernandez, David Peterson, Tylor Megill, Joey Lucchesi, Zach Greene, and Jeff Brigham will spend spring training meaningfully fighting for jobs in the pen, Hunter has his work cut out for him. This does not even mention the myriad of NRIs and waiver claims they made that can make their way onto the roster, like Sam Coonrod and my number 27 Mets prospect William Woods, plus other prospects like Eric Orze and Grant Hartwig. For the first time in a long, long, long, time, the Mets have options for the bullpen. (Did I mention its been a long time?)
With one of the spots likely going to a swingman like Peterson, Megill, Lucchesi or Hernandez, Hunter has even less room to work with. However, he has done nothing but pitch well for the Mets. He has made 22 appearances (including one incredible start as an opener against the Braves, which included his first major league hit), and has a 1.78 ERA in 30 innings to show for it. Injuries have derailed his time in Queens, including a back injury so bad it was considered a possible career-ender, but he has done nothing but perform on the field and send the best vibes out off the field during his stints here. While the bullpen is, dare I say Good, from top to bottom for what feels like the first time in forever, there is still room for multiple guys to make waves for the Mets as middle relievers. With Hunter’s past performances, and his flexibility to pitch whenever and wherever the team needs him to, I would be shocked if we don’t get another chapter in the Tommy Hunter Mets Experience again in 2023.