PORT ST. LUCIE — Brad Brach’s grand expectations for the Mets bullpen are based partly on the law of averages.
“I just think some of the guys, there is no way they could pitch as bad as they did last year,” the veteran reliever said Saturday. “I just think it’s not possible when you watch how good of stuff they have and how good they have done throughout their career. Then you throw Dellin [Betances] into the mix and I think it has a chance to do something unbelievable.”
A sleeper could be the 33-year-old Brach, who pitched dependably in his two-month stint with the Mets last season after a brutal stretch with the Cubs.
In 16 appearances for the Mets, he pitched to a 3.68 ERA, leading team officials to move quickly to re-sign him in the offseason. Brach received a one-year deal worth $850,000 from the club. The Cubs, for whom he pitched to a 6.13 ERA in 42 appearances last season, owe him another $500,000 for this year.
Why was Brach so much better for the Mets than the Cubs?
“The biggest thing was using the cutter a lot more, I was able to be a lot more aggressive in the zone and I think it kind of just made everything else a little bit better,” Brach said. “Coming over here and really the coaching staff gave me the confidence just throwing that thing a lot and they really liked it. I kind of saw it as a ‘What else do I have to lose’ kind of thing.”
Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia were particularly underwhelming in the Mets’ bullpen last season, but Brach wouldn’t expect that to continue.
“I really think we have a chance to do something special,” he said. “If guys pitch to their career norm I think we have a chance to really, especially with the starters that we have, I think the staff as a whole has a chance to do something real special.”
Noah Syndergaard was trolled by teammates, as they removed their jerseys and participated in workouts shirtless Saturday. Syndergaard has been known to work out shirtless. At one point, Syndergaard scurried around the practice field and picked up the jerseys, running off with them.
“I think everyone is guilty there,” Rojas said. “A little fun by teammates, knowing Noah. It was a collaboration prank by the team and I think they delivered.”
The Mets will play host to 75-100 Special Olympic athletes and their families Sunday in a baseball clinic with players and coaches at Clover Park.