Mets Don’t Need To Sign Left-Handed Reliever
In 2015, the Mets not only won the National League East, but they went all the way to the World Series. During that wonderfully unexpected run, the team left a bevvy of left-handed relievers in their wake. Time and again, the team tried to solve their presumed issues with not having a left-handed reliever to no avail. Here is a look at all the left-handed relievers they went through that season:
- Josh Edgin – needed Tommy John surgery before the season began
- Jerry Blevins – appeared in seven games before suffering a broken arm
- Alex Torres – pitched to a 1.515 WHIP and was released on August 4th
- Sean Gilmartin – used as a long man in the bullpen due in part to his reverse splits
- Jack Leathersich – shuttled back and forth between New York and Las Vegas before his season ended due to him needing Tommy John surgery
- Dario Alvarez – appeared in six games before suffering a groin injury that cost him the rest of the season
- Eric O’Flaherty – 13.50 ERA and left off the postseason roster
The lack of the left-handed pitcher did not prevent this team from making it to the postseason or to going to the World Series. The main reason is that team’s right-handed relievers could pitch to left-handed batters. In fact, the batting lines suggests the right-handed relievers performed just as well as a LOOGY would:
- Jeurys Familia .214/.291/.325
- Tyler Clippard .137/.231/.237
- Addison Reed .253/.330/.368
- Hansel Robles .179/.287/.299
The moral of the story is that you do not need a left-handed pitcher to get out left-handed batters. Rather, you need pitchers who are effective at pitching against left-handed batters to get them out.
There are some caveats. First, the Mets did go with Jon Niese as the left-hander in the bullpen during the 2015 postseason, and he did get some big outs including a key strike out of Anthony Rizzo in the NLCS. Second, Blevins was an extremely important part of the 2016 bullpen. Without Blevins in the bullpen, it is quite possible the Mets do not get one of the two Wild Card spots. This creates a problem as Blevins is now a free agent – a free agent that is about to cash in on a terrific year.
So far, we have seen arguably less talented left-handed relievers get big contracts. Brett Cecil received a four year $30.5 million contract from the Cardinals. Marc Rzepczynski received a two year $11 million contract from the Mariners. Mike Dunn received a three year $19 million from the Colorado Rockies. According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Blevins was already seeking a three year deal worth $5-$6 million per season. Based upon the contracts already handed out, it is easy to assume Blevins will get the deal he is seeking.
However, it should be noted that deal is likely not coming from the Mets. As already noted, Sandy Alderson does not want to give out multi-year deals to relievers. Furthermore, it does not not appear the Mets are interested in investing $6 million a year on a left-handed reliever. With that being the case, the Mets best chance might be to revert to the 2015 model thrust upon them.
From that team, Familia, Reed, and Robles still remain, and they are still effective as ever in getting left-handed batters out. Here were their stats from the 2016 season:
- Familia .239/.315/.313
- Reed .210/.264/.269
- Robles .179/.287/.299
There is also some promise with Edgin. Despite him not fully regaining his velocity after his Tommy John surgery, he still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out in a very small sample size. In 2016, he faced 20 left-handed batters, and he limited them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line.
Between, Familia, Reed, Robles, and Edgin, the 2017 Mets may already have sufficient bullpen depth to get left-handed batters out. Moreover, with the Mets resportedly wanting to cut payroll from where it currently stands, the team may be forced to stick in-house and instead seek a seventh inning reliever.
That is certainly a justifiable route because the bullpen as constructed already has enough depth to get left-handed batters out. As such, the team does not need to add a left-hander for the sake of adding a left-hander.