The New York Mets may have finally rounded out their rotation for the 2024 season. After having already signed Luis Severino to a one-year deal, and acquired Adrian Houser via trade, the Mets have added their third starting pitcher to the fold this offseason.
According to multiple reports, the Mets have signed left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea to a two-year deal worth $28 million. The deal includes an opt-out after the first season.
What Are the Mets Getting in Manaea?
Manaea is entering his age-32 season and is coming off a year where he pitched to a 4.44 ERA over 117 2/3 innings pitched with the San Francisco Giants.
While the numbers don’t look great overall, Manaea struggles primarily came in his first eight games, where he pitched to a 7.96 ERA over 26 innings pitched. Manaea pitched to a 3.44 ERA in his final 91 2/3 innings pitched, over 27 appearances.
Manaea spent a large portion of the season coming out of the Giants bullpen, but returned to the rotation in September to great success. Over four starts, Manaea pitched to a 2.25 ERA, allowing just six earned runs in 24 innings pitched.
This is a real upside play for the Mets, as Manaea could tap into a lot more now that he is going into his second season after working with Driveline.
As outlined in the video above, Driveline identified a lack of torso rotation in Manaea’s delivery and were able to augment his mechanics to get him to utilize his torso more. The result was over 2 MPH gained on his fastball from 2022 to 2023.
In 2022, Manaea sat an average of 91.3 MPH on his fastball. That number jumped to 93.6 MPH, with Manaea suddenly able to top out at 97 MPH. At 6-foot-5, Manaea gets great extension towards the plate over seven feet (7.2 ft). Now living in the mid 90s, Manaea can can attack the zone with more confidence.
The other big addition for Manaea was the implementation of his new sweeper.
In the past, Manaea was primarily using a sinker, change-up and slider as his main offerings, before leaning more into a four-seam fastball instead of the sinker in 2022. This year, Manaea added a sweeper, which gave him a much-slower pitch to change speeds with at 79.6 MPH, compared to his change-up which sat at 96.6 MPH and his slider, which sat at 83.9 MPH.
Batters hit just .140 against his sweeper, with an expected batting average (xBA) of .161. They slugged just .163 against the pitch with a .211 xSLG. In fact, Manaea allowed just one extra-base hit on his sweeper last season, and it was a double.
His slider on the other hand was hit for a home run on four occasions, as batters hit .284, with a .567 slugging percentage on the pitch. When it comes to run value, his slider was by far his worst pitch, with a run value of -9.
Meanwhile his sweeper had a positive run value of 3, which gave him three plus pitches when it came to run value with his fastball getting a run value of 6 and his change-up at 4.
Now while all of those numbers would suggest abandoning the slider in favor of his sweeper, from examining the individual game logs of his final four starts, Manaea only threw his sweeper twice, while throwing his slider 54 times.
This was his best run of success of the season as a starter, and it came with him primarily going back to a three-pitch mix of fastball, change-up, slider, with the occasional sweeper or cutter.
Bottom line, the real story with Manaea was that his work with Driveline has his mechanics improved to the point where he is getting the most out of his arsenal. If he comes back with the refined slider he showed down the stretch, along with the addition of his sweeper, there is a real four-pitch mix that can get batters out.
Are the Mets Done Adding to Their Rotation?
As presently constructed the Mets rotation is as follows: 1. Kodai Senga 2. Jose Quintana 3. Luis Severino 4. Sean Manaea 5. Adrian Houser 6. Tylor Megill.
Outside of that top six on the depth chart, the Mets have Jose Butto and Joey Lucceshi as further depth on the 40-man roster, as well as prospects like Mike Vasil and Christian Scott who are not too far away from making a big league debut.
If the Mets plan to roll with a six-man rotation to protect their ace in Senga, along with a pitcher that comes with great injury risk in Severino, adding another starter could still be on the table.
More likely though, the Mets will let Houser and Megill compete for the fifth spot in the rotation, with the other being used as a swingman who could make spot starts to give guys rest throughout the season.
At this stage, expect the Mets to look towards the relief market to add a set-up man for Edwin Diaz before they would add another starting pitcher. They also could look to add a DH in free agency.