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In last night's 2-0 win over the Nationals, Jon Rauch relieved Jon Niese in the eighth inning and retired the final two batters in the inning.

Since June 8, Rauch has lowered his ERA from 4.76 to 3.04, allowing three earned runs and four walks and 16 strikeouts in 21 innings over 29 relief appearances.

Rauch signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Mets during the Winter Meetings last December. He can become a free agent at the end of this season.

The one knock on Rauch are the seven losses on his line, but with the exception of one terrible outing in May and one in June, Rauch has had a very, very good year for the Mets. He's dealt with a combination of bone chips in his elbow and shaky knees, yet he's been able to pitch through all of that at a high level. Early in the year he was relying a lot on his breaking ball as opposed to establishing his fastball for strikes, and that led to a lack of crispness and rhythm in his outings. But since June, he has re-established his fastball and has had great downward trajectory to it. If he has that kind of movement, his height and stride add an element of deception to his stuff which clearly makes him harder to hit.

I don't know whether or not Rauch fits into the team's plans from a payroll perspective next season. But in a bullpen which once again requires a reconstruction project, Rauch hasn't been a problem this season and can go a long way towards providing a stable path to the ninth inning next season. He told me in Spring Training how much his relationship with Sandy Alderson influenced his decision to join the Mets, and so I would hope that plays into his decision to return next year.

Tags: MetsBlog
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