For Trevor May, one pitch is making all the difference.
Since his ERA ballooned to 4.57 on June 14, May has turned his season around with nine consecutive scoreless appearances, dropping his ERA to 3.23.
To Mets manager Luis Rojas, the secret to May’s success lies in his slider.
“He’s always had a really good fastball, but when he didn’t have the secondary pitches, he was becoming a one-pitch pitcher,” Rojas said before Tuesday’s game against the Brewers was rained out. “That’s when his fastball, which is a fly-ball pitch, was becoming a home run at times because he’s a big-time power supplier with his fastball. So the secondary [stuff] is helping.”
On the season, hitters are batting just .179 against May’s slider, compared to .239 against his fastball and .321 against his changeup. May hasn’t allowed a hit off his slider since June 14, when the Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom connected for a home run.
“He’s been throwing it for a strike,” Rojas said of the slider. “He’s been throwing it in the same line as his fastball and he’s been able to get some chases. The changeup has been a good pitch for him the whole year, but he needed the breaking ball. I think that’s what’s helping the most right now.”
May’s recent success is the sort of late-inning production the Mets envisioned when they signed the 31-year-old right-hander to a two-year, $15.5 million contract in the offseason. In Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo, the Mets feature one of the premier back-end bullpen duos in the league. Factor in May’s dominance and the unit grows all the more formidable.
May’s resurgence couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Though injuries have stretched the Mets’ rotation thin, performances from May and others out of the bullpen have enabled them to keep winning despite a lack of innings from the starting pitching, especially the back end of the rotation. That was on display in Monday’s victory over the Brewers, when four relievers combined to limit Milwaukee to one run on three hits across the game’s final four innings.
Central to that effort was May, who tallied a scoreless eighth inning on just eight pitches.
“He worked on stuff that he needed to work on and look at him now, he’s throwing the ball great,” Rojas said.