The New York Mets took a flyer Thursday, claiming lefty reliever Brad Hand off the waiver wire. To make room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Geoff Hartlieb was designated for assignment. The decision to add Hand was yet another unexpected development in what has been a tumultuous week for New York. Hand struggled during his brief tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays, who designated him for assignment on Tuesday. The Mets hope Hand can straighten things out and provide bullpen help down the stretch.
Mets Add Mr. Hand
A three-time All-Star, Hand is a somewhat familiar face to the Mets and their fans, as he began 2021 with the Washington Nationals. He had decent numbers with Washington this year, going 5-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 21 saves in 26 opportunities. However, Hand had a rough August following his deadline acquisition by Toronto. In 11 games with the Jays, he pitched to a 7.27 ERA, a 1.846 WHIP, a 63 ERA+, and an 0-2 record. He gave up 13 hits in 8 2/3 innings of work and blew his only save opportunity.
Given these struggles, it is unlikely Hand will challenge Edwin Diaz for the closer role, despite his prior pedigree. Instead, he will probably work middle relief, especially against lefty batters. Manager Luis Rojas indicated as much in his pregame press conference Thursday. “Even though he’s been that late-inning guy, a closer, he can come in in the middle of the game for us and shut teams down,” he said. Hand would be ineligible for the postseason roster if the Mets make it that far since they acquired him after August 31. His free-agent status following the season makes him the epitome of a rental player for the Mets this September.
Crazy Week for Mets Continues
Hand’s acquisition was merely the latest surprise for the Mets this week. The soap opera began Sunday when Javier Baez explained that the thumbs-down gesture adopted by the team was a way of booing the fans back. This garnered Baez a heavy dose of ill will from the fanbase and prompted Mets president Sandy Alderson to call him out. However, he flipped the script quickly on Tuesday with his mad dash from first to walk off the Marlins. The chaos continued with the arrest of acting general manager Zack Scott Tuesday morning on a DWI charge. Now, the Mets add a pitcher who earned a prompt cast-off from his latest team for his struggles. The Mets are making a big gamble on Hand being able to turn things around. With their playoff hopes already hanging by a thread, however, they clearly found it a gamble worth taking.
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