Black’s delivery relies on a very unusual glove tap, which complicates his timing, and this spring was messed up. In the Wall Street Journal, Jared Diamond explains that Black’s tap might well have saved his career.
Black had a lousy spring, in 10 outings against competition that averaged a AA level, he gave up 24 baserunners (13 H, 10 BB, 1 HBP) in 9.1 innings. That’s bad. If AAA Las Vegas is the place to get his mechanics right, so be it.
The 26-year-old Germen was ok for the Mets last year (3.93 ERA, in 34.1 IP, 22% K, 10.7% BB) and worse this spring. In his 10.1 innigns, he’s allowed 15 baserunners against an opponents’ quality somewhere between AA and AAA. Germen is a fastball (55%)/changeup (28.4%) heavy pitcher who gives up lots of fly balls (41.4% last year). He also was very lucky in 2013 thanks to a HR/FB ratio of 2.4% where league average was 10.5%. Unless Germen is one of those pitchers who has some special ability to keep fly balls in the yard, regression is coming for him and it’s going to hurt.
Black throws harder. His average fastball was 95.5 mph to Germen’s 93 in 2013.
I did a brief twitter poll about which right-handed reliever would spend more days on the active roster in 2014, and the unanimous response was: Black.
The bet here: Black will be a significant part of the 2014 Mets bullpen by May. The pathway might not just be Germen’s regression. “Closer” Bobby Parnell’s velocity was 88-92 in his final spring training outing. He’s averaged 96+ in the big leagues. Jose Valverde, who lost his job with the Tigers a year ago thanks to a 5.59 ERA, is supposed to be the 8th inning guy. Jeurys Familia has battled control problems nearly his entire career. John Lannan, of the 148 career starts, is miscast as a LOOGY. He has no platoon splits (.755 OPS vs. LHH and RHH). Maybe a move to the bullpen will help his ordinary stuff.
Black will be back.