Scouts and execs on how Trevor May reinvented himself to become a dominant reliever

Trevor May jersey swap holding glove and ball, grey Citi Field in background

Trevor Might jersey swap holding glove and ball, grey Citi Field in background

Over the last 2 seasons, Trevor Might has actually made himself into a strikeout beast, as if put together in a relief pitching lab utilizing the modern-day formula created to assault the launch angle generation of players: High fastballs and biting sliders.

Easier stated than done, naturally, however if you’re 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and you have the huge arm required, it appears rather workable, evaluating by the ever-increasing variety of reducers around the major leagues who have actually turned the late innings into a parade of whiffs.

Might is Exhibition A, an unsuccessful starter and after that so-so reducer through his mid-20s for the Minnesota Twins who returned from Tommy John surgical treatment in 2018 and started personalizing his tools to end up being mainly a two-pitch power reducer — raising his fastball while junking his curve and depending on a rebuilt slider with late vertical drop.

In doing so, Might had adequate success to end up being a hot product at age 31, the very first totally free representative signed by the Mets in the Steve Cohen age, for 2 years and $15.5 million.

He likewise made lots of appreciation from critics around the major leagues, with one scout paying him what might be thought about the greatest of compliments:

“If I didn’t know better I’d swear he pitched for the Rays the last couple of years,” the scout stated with a laugh. “He looks like one of those guys Tampa finds every year that nobody thought much of and they turn him into a stud reliever.”

Really, the Mets might have another reducer who fits that description, having actually signed lefty Aaron Loup, something of a journeyman who pitched really successfully in 2015 at age 32 in his one season with the Rays.

In any case, Might is the person who created a lot interest, though he’s not without defects, to be sure. Last season he was vulnerable to the error pitch, quiting 5 crowning achievement in 23.1 innings, which mainly describes why he had a less-than-dominant 3.86 AGE as a setup male for the Twins.

Yet the Mets certainly think in his capability to get swings and misses out on, something he did about along with any reducer in the majors last season.

“That’s what everybody wants at the end of games now are guys who can miss bats,” a competing group executive informed me. “The home runs could be a little worrisome but with his stuff you hope they were a small sample anomaly. He’s going to get his strikeouts.”

Yes, in acquiring 38 strikeouts last season, Might balanced 14.7 K’s per 9 innings, and his whiff rate went from 30.1 percent to 43 percent, the greatest boost in the majors.

Moreover, the right-hander created a 46.9 percent whiff rate versus his four-seam fastball, greatest in MLB. Yu Darvish was No. 2 on that list and No. 3 was none besides Edwin Diaz, who recuperated all right from his dreadful 2019 season to acquire 50 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings, a crazy-high K rate of 17.5 per 9 innings.

As such, the Mets have the capacity for amazing late-inning supremacy when Might and Diaz work the 8th and ninth innings, which is most likely to be their favored formula on a lot of nights, definitely up until Seth Lugo returns from surgical treatment to eliminate a bone chip from his elbow.

“I’m still a little wary of Diaz because his mechanics can get out of whack, the way they did in ’19,” one scout stated. “But he did a better job of tightening up his delivery last year and not overthrowing his slider. If he’s right, and May keeps doing what he’s doing, the Mets could be very tough to beat in the late innings.”

If and when Lugo does return, Luis Rojas might have some good choices on a lot of nights, to the point where scouts question if Might ends up being something of a wild card in the pen, utilized not a lot in a particular inning as a particular circumstance with the video game on the line.

“If they have depth, May might be the guy you want ready to face a team’s best hitter in a tight situation, whatever inning it is,” one scout stated. “When you really need a strikeout, you’d like your chances with him.”

So how did Might end up being such a whiff beast?

MLB Network’s Tom Verducci, who studied video of Might for a breakdown sector back in November, states it’s mainly the outcome of revamping his slider, starting eventually in 2019.

“He changed the grip on the slider,” Verducci stated by phone. “His old one was a below-average pitch that didn’t have the tilt it does now. He gets this Brad Lidge-like downward break on the ball that hitters can’t lay off. Remember Lidge used to have such a downward movement that people thought it was a splitter? That’s what May’s looks like.

“He started throwing it in 2019 and then he threw the hell out of it last year. He throws it to lefties and righties and gets hitters to chase. I think it helped make his fastball more effective because he doesn’t have to throw it as much. He pitches off the slider but he’s got the velocity to throw the fastball by hitters. That’s why he gets so many swings and misses now.”

Might’s pitch use, as recorded by brooksbaseball.net, highlights Verducci’s analysis. As just recently as 2018 Might’s 78 miles per hour captain hook represented 19 percent of his pitches — 2nd in use just to his fastball — while he tossed his flatter slider just 10.7 percent of the time.

The numbers were comparable in 2019, however last season May didn’t toss his captain hook at all, rather depending on his brand-new slider for 32 percent of his pitches, while blending in a changeup 16 percent of the time and his fastball 52 percent.

Over the very same 2 years, May focused on tossing his four-seamer with more elevation to counter the launch angle swing. In doing so he acquired 2 miles per hour, tossing it at approximately 96.6 miles per hour in 2015, and produced that heady 46.9 percent whiff rate.

“May has done what a lot of teams are trying to do with their relievers – high velocity up, breaking stuff down,” one scout stated. “The risk is not knowing for sure if he can get hitters to chase that slider out of the zone over 162 games, since he really only perfected it last year.

“When he leaves it in the strike zone it’s pretty easy for big leaguers to see and hit, and he gave up some home runs that way. But the trend line is promising. When he’s right, he’s lights-out.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.