In recent memory, the New York Mets are notorious for losing late-game leads due to inefficient bullpen production. Justin Wilson has been one of the lone bright spots since the decline of the bullpen.
Ever since Jeurys Familia‘s 50 save season in 2016, the bullpen has been the Achilles heel of the Mets. A season ago, in 2019, New York went 86-76. If closer Edwin Diaz was at least respectable, the team would be in contention for a division title. However, things didn’t go as planned.
Diaz had an earned run average over five and blew seven save opportunities. Even though Diaz and Familia were atrocious, Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson had very promising seasons. If it weren’t for them, New York may have failed to win 80 games. In the shortened 2020 season, Wilson was still solid but didn’t replicate his 2019 form. He had a 2-1 record with a solid 3.66 ERA compared to a 4-2 record and 2.54 ERA in 2019.
Justin Wilson’s Resume
In the 37th round of the 2005 MLB Draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled the trigger on left-handed pitcher Justin Wilson. While he didn’t make his Major League debut until 2012 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he exceeded expectations in 2013. That season, Wilson was part of 101 win Pirates team and had a 6-1 record with a low earned run average of 2.08. 2014 saw a slight regression from Wilson as he recorded a 3-4 record and a 4.20 earned run average.
In the offseason, the Pirates traded Justin Wilson to the New York Yankees for catcher Francisco Cervelli. Wilson became an essential part of the Yankee bullpen, being the seventh inning setup pitcher to Dellin Betances & Andrew Miller. Wilson recorded a 5-0 record with a 3.10 earned run average, striking out 66 batters over 61 innings.
With the Tigers in 2016, Wilson took a step back, pitching to a 4-5 record with a 4.14 earned run average.
To start 2017, Wilson took a step forward pitching to an earned run average below three. But at the trade deadline, he was shipped to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for infielder Jeimer Candelario, shortstop Isaac Paredes, and a player to be named later or cash considerations.
To finish out the season, Justin Wilson pitched to a 4-4 record with a 3.41 earned run average in 2017. He would spend 2018 with the Cubs, pitching to a record of 4-5 and an earned run average of 3.46. Wilson became a free agent after 2018.
Justin Wilson Signs With the New York Mets
With many key additions to the Mets bullpen in the 2019 offseason, they seemed to not be finished yet as they signed Justin Wilson to a two year-$10 million deal. He joined a Mets bullpen that consisted of new faces such as Walker Lockett and Edwin Diaz. The bullpen performance was horrific in 2019, ranking among the worst in the MLB. But, Wilson was a lone bright spot and brought life to the bullpen. The veteran had a sub-three earned run average, mainly being used as a setup man.
In 2020, Wilson took a small step back, pitching to a higher earned run average of 3.66. However, with a streaky Mets bullpen, he remained one of the best in the bullpen.
Justin Wilson is now a free agent headed into the 2021 offseason, and there are question marks about whether New York should retain him or let him walk.
With his contract expiring at the end of 2020, I believe the Mets should re-sign Justin Wilson for several reasons. For example, the Mets bullpen improved in 2020, but was still streaky and inconsistent at times. Wilson would provide a consistent, go-to reliever mantra that the team can always count on. In addition, the team can most likely sign him to an extremely cheap deal. Wilson is aging and also provided veteran leadership. Although new owner Steve Cohen has many other priorities this offseason, re-signing Wilson should not be overlooked.