New York Mets pitcher P.J. Conlon might not be well known in North America just yet, but he’s already pretty popular across the pond. Conlon made his major-league debut with the Mets on Monday. With the appearance, he became the first Irish-born player in the majors in 73 years.
Conlon made the start as a replacement for Jacob deGrom, who was surprisingly placed on the disabled list Sunday.
Conlon didn’t last too long in his first start. He went just 3 ⅔ innings, giving up three runs on four hits. Conlon walked two batters and struck out one.
Who is P.J. Conlon?
Conlon is a 24-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Mets who was born in Belfast. After two years there, his family moved to California. He was selected by the team in the 13th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft, and has developed into somewhat of an underdog prospect.
Despite barely touching 90 mph with his fastball, Conlon worked his way up to being the 24th best prospect in the Mets’ system according to Baseball America. He relies on strong command and has an excellent changeup.
Did he have any big highlights in his debut?
He did. In the top of the fourth inning, Conlon picked up his first major-league hit on a single up the middle. His family was watching from the stands and went wild celebrating the accomplishment. It should be easy to pick them out in the highlight, one of them was holding up an Irish flag.
— MLB (@MLB) May 8, 2018
Who was the last player from Ireland to appear in the majors?
It was pitcher Joe Cleary, who was born in Cork. He appeared in one game for the Washington Senators in 1945. He lasted just one-third of an inning, giving up seven earned runs. His career ERA sits at 189.00.
MLB’s official historian, John Thorn, tweeted out a few pictures of other Irish-born players from a much earlier era. He left it up to his followers to figure out which players were pictured. Even if you don’t play along, you should at least enjoy looking at some old baseball pictures.
P.J. Conlon will pitch for Mets tonight, becoming first Irish-born player to debut since 1945, and only the third since 1916. Many from Erin in the 19th century; no HOFers yet, but some great names, offered in images below for your identification… pic.twitter.com/FiqVIrXn38
— John Thorn (@thorn_john) May 7, 2018
As Thorn notes, no Irish-born player has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While Conlon’s first start wasn’t outstanding, he’s still off to a much better start to his career than Cleary.
What’s next for Conlon?
Conlon was actually a surprise choice to start the contest, but that likely had something to do with Jacob deGrom suddenly going on the disabled list. Moving forward, the team may just move Seth Lugo into deGrom’s spot in the rotation until he’s ready to return. Lugo has been used as a long reliever early in 2018.
Conlon might be sent back down to the minors, but he can always work his way back into the Mets’ plan later in the season.
(BLS H/N: Cut 4)
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