Every now and then we hear chatter that Noah Syndergaard should be extended, or Zack Wheeler, or Michael Conforto. Some or all of these could make sense, depending on the price. There is one reasonable extension the Mets could offer, and probably should offer. That is, remove the “interim” from the title of pitching coach Phil Regan, bump his salary and extend him for next season.
When the previous pitching coach, Dave Eiland, was fired earlier this year, it seemed like Eiland was being scapegoated for the pitching drop off of the team. Most people probably assumed the 82 year old Regan was just a placeholder until some up and coming pitching coach could be hired after the season. However, Regan is getting results, dramatic results at that, in improving the team’s pitching.
Regan had a distinguished MLB career as a pitcher, mainly in the sixties. He was pitching coach for several big league teams, as well as a manager for Baltimore. For the past 13 seasons he had been a roving minor league pitching instructor in the Mets farm system, and had worked with most of the current Mets pitchers in that capacity.
Under Regan’s watch the Mets SPs have found their mojo. Regan took over in late June, but to allow for a little time to get his feet wet we’ll compare some of the Mets’ pitchers records from before the All-Star break to after the break when Regan was in charge.
Wheeler, for example, pre-break had an ERA of 4.69 and a WHIP of 1.28. Since the break, his ERA is 2.19 and WHIP is 0.73. It’s a similar story for Syndergaard, with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP pre- break, with 1.78 and 0.99 post- break. Both Wheeler and Syndergaard have something else in common. According to a New York Post story by Kevin Kernan, Regan found a similar flaw in the pitching motion of both. Both pitchers were closing off their front foot, negatively affecting their balance. The adjustment was made, and both have been lights out since then.
Some of the relievers have improved as well. Seth Lugo had a good record pre-break, with a 3.35 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Since the break, in 10.2 IP, Lugo has been untouchable with a 0.00 ERA and microscopic 0.09 WHIP. Robert Gsellman struggled before the break, with a 5.09 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. He too has righted the ship with post -break figures of 2.63 and 1.10.
Not all the pitchers have turned it around, Jeuris Familia and Edwin Diaz still have plenty of room left for improvement.
The team has shown it can move swiftly when change is needed, as in the case of Eiland. It might be worthwhile to show performance can be rewarded swiftly as well, with a well deserved extension for Regan. Team morale is high after the recent winning streaks, and morale would probably soar even higher if Regan was named pitching coach, not just “interim” pitching coach.