/Mets rookie Colin Holderman a big boost to bullpen

Mets rookie Colin Holderman a big boost to bullpen

LOS ANGELES — The Mets are almost certain to shop for a reliever, at minimum, between now and the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

But the question of whether that arm will be a necessity or a luxury item could be dictated in the coming weeks, as injured players get healthy and perhaps other casualties emerge.

Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Adam Ottavino and Drew Smith have been the Mets’ most valuable relievers to this point, but the team has also received solid production from lefty Joely Rodriguez.

But it is rookie Colin Holderman’s emergence that has the potential to become as big for the Mets as any trade they might consider to bolster the unit.

Holderman, who did not pitch in the Mets’ 6-1 loss to the Dodgers on Friday night at Dodger Stadium, has allowed just one earned run allowed over 10 ²/₃ innings to begin his major league career, with 13 strikeouts. He shined in his most recent appearance, firing 1 ¹/₃ shutout innings against the Dodgers on Thursday.

Holderman, a non-roster invitee to spring training this season, got the attention of Mets officials in camp with his high-90s fastball. The 26-year-old changed his mechanics under the guidance of former minor league pitching coordinator Ricky Meinhold, adding significant velocity to his fastball after returning from labrum and ulnar collateral ligament tears.

Colin Holderman
Colin Holderman
Robert Sabo

“I wanted to get him into this environment,” manager Buck Showalter said Friday. “It’s another part of all our young pitchers, when you get an opportunity. I like the way he responded. He made some good pitches and gave us a chance.”

Holderman has averaged 95.5 mph with his fastball, according to Baseball Savant, mixing in a cutter and slider to give him an effective three-pitch arsenal.

“I am definitely getting more confidence with the more high-end batters I face and have success,” Holderman said. “I am just being aggressive and not trying to nibble and go right after them whether it’s a former MVP or 9-hole hitter. My approach doesn’t change. I am going to attack them and give them my best stuff.”

Lugo has been impressed in Holderman’s aggressive approach.

“He attacks guys,” Lugo said. “It’s easy to come up as a reliever and try to be fine and try to make perfect pitches and be intimidated by good hitters with good career numbers, but he just goes right at guys.”

Others receiving an opportunity in this expanded Mets bullpen (the team added another reliever after Dominic Smith was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse last week) include Stephen Nogosek and Adonis Medina.

The wild card is Trevor May, who has spent the past month on the injured list with a stress reaction in his humerus. The right-hander’s return could coincide with the All-Star break or the lead in to the trade deadline.

Overall, the Mets’ bullpen numbers have been respectable. The team entered play Friday with a 3.39 ERA from the bullpen that ranked ninth in MLB and the 218 strikeouts from relievers was tied for fourth.

“There is not much fear in that bullpen,” Lugo said. “It’s nice.”