Phil Regan, all 82 years of him, is either a genius or a man lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Either way, he’s getting it done…
When Phil Regan was appointed the Mets new pitching coach in the latter part of June, the roars resounded from Queens to New Jersey. What’s Brodie Van Wagenen up to now? An 82-year-old man who looks every bit his age working with twenty-something young studs? Here go the Mets again…
Two months later though, a Mets pitching staff that includes starters and relievers now ranks tenth in the major leagues in team pitching with an ERA of 4.38. That’s better than the Braves, Yankees, Nationals, Brewers, and Phillies all of whom are teams on their way to the postseason or knocking on the door.
Because baseball is a team game, I’m not going to get carried away here by singling Phil Regan out as The One who altered the course of the Mets pitching staff and the team’s season. But at the same time, I don’t believe in coincidence.
Because if you watched Steven Matz throw 6 1/3 nearly perfect innings last night against a robust Cleveland Indians lineup – you know that is not the Steven Matz we saw back in May. Bending but never breaking, Matz was in control of his pitches when he needed to be.
Adequately mad at himself when he walked a batter, Matz stayed within himself. Something that’s long been astray from Matz’s demeanor and body language when the Lefty is standing tall on the mound.
Mets Pitchers – There’s Something Happening Here
Something is different with Met’s pitchers these days. We see it in the bulldog mentality of Noah Syndergaard – pitching – and not just throwing the ball. We see it in Justin Wilson, who came in last night to strike out two hitters on only seven pitches to lift the Mets out of a jam. And we’re about to see it with Edwin Diaz, who has worked tirelessly with Regan to find his way in New York City.
Phil Regan is old school. He’s a bit of a cornball too. But he also knows his stuff and Mets pitchers respect that. Regan can get away with posting motivational quotes on a bulletin board in the clubhouse – old school these days. In that way, age generates freedom to express oneself. Somehow it all comes together, and these young studs pass by reading his quotes.
The league is increasingly aware of the Mets and their pitching prowess. It scares the hell out of teams, as it should. The team will go as far as their pitching takes them. That’s nothing new for the Mets. They are built that way.
To be sure, timely hitting is required as well. The kind we saw last night with J.D. Davis‘s two-run home run to tie the game. Then, Michael Conforto‘s blast to give the Mets the lead. And finally the icing on the cake, Pete Alonso‘s single up the middle scoring two more, increasing his RBI total to 97. Five runs more than the Mets needed in an 8-2 squashing of the sloppy Indians.
Phil Regan Is Not A One-Man Show
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Except for Jacob deGrom, who is in a league by himself, Phil Regan is taking care to raise (in this case) his grandchildren.
Regan is not a one-man show. Help comes from many places and in different forms. Dave Racaniello, the Mets Bullpen Catcher, is the one who tirelessly receives all of Edwin Diaz’s and others bullpen sessions. Jeremy Accardo, the Mets Pitching Strategist, plots the analytics to support Regan’s unfamiliarity with a computer. And Ricky Bones, the Mets Bullpen Coach, directs traffic during a game, ensuring relievers are ready when Mickey Callaway signals for them.
But the man at the wheel is Phil Regan. The laughs have turned to cheers from his players. Fans have yet to come around, but they will. With age often comes wisdom. Phil Regan, all 82 years of him, is out there proving it.