Jacob Rhame May Be Part Of Opening Day Roster
With Major League Baseball’s new rules, teams can only carry 13 pitchers, and seeing how the Mets have operated the past few seasons, the Mets will very likely carry 13 pitchers in 2020. With the five man rotation, this means the Mets will have an eight man bullpen.
Right now, barring injury, the Mets have Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, and Brad Brach as absolute locks for the Opening Day bullpen. That is going to leave two bullpen spots open with one of them going to the pitcher who loses the bullpen battle. That pitcher is most likely going to be Michael Wacha.
That is where things begin to get a bit interesting.
On the surface, it would seem Robert Gsellman has an inside track for the last bullpen job. After all, he has been a reliever for each of the past two seasons. However, he has not performed well out of the bullpen with an 87 ERA+ and 4.03 FIP over that stretch. When you combine the Mets wanting him to spend the offseason working as a starter, you wonder if a pitcher who still has options remaining will begin the year in Triple-A as a starter.
On the topic of options, Jacob Rhame is out of options, and the Mets will have to expose him to waivers if they are going to keep him in the organization.
Rhame is coming off a season where he had ulnar transposition surgery. That is the same surgery Jacob deGrom underwent in 2016. In his first year after the surgery, deGrom was a good starting pitcher, and in the ensuing two years he emerged as the best pitcher in baseball.
Now, that is obviously not Rhame’s ceiling. However, we do see after undergoing that surgery a pitcher can reach their full potential. While many may debate what exactly that is for Rhame, the Mets clearly have some interest in finding out as they have kept him throughout this offseason despite fully knowing he is out of options.
With Rhame having a career 6.23 MLB ERA and a Triple-A 4.05 ERA, you have to wonder what exactly the Mets are seeing in him.
Looking at Baseball Savant, Rhame throws in the mid-90s, and back in 2018, before he needed the transposition surgery, he had above average movement on that fastball. While he did not get much vertical movement on his splitter, it had very good horizontal movement, which is part of the reason why it was a swing-and-miss pitch for him.
Ultimately, that is what the Mets see in Rhame – his potential. Since the day they obtained him from Curtis Granderson, they knew they were getting a big arm with relatively untapped potential. He still has the ability to generate strikeouts, and as we saw with Rhys Hoskins, he has a bit of a nasty streak where he won’t back down or take anything from the opponent.
Based on what we have seen this offseason, the Mets are going to allow Rhame to work with new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner to show his potential can yield results. Presumably, he is going to get an opportunity to show the Mets he is a better option in the bullpen than Gsellman, who may belong in the rotation, or Walker Lockett, who is also out of options.
In the end, the Mets have kept Rhame around for a reason. Perhaps, that reason is to have him be a part of the 2020 Opening Day roster. With pitchers and catchers reporting soon, he is going to get the opportunity to prove he belongs.
4 Replies to “Jacob Rhame May Be Part Of Opening Day Roster”
Good call on Jacob Rhame provided he’s healthy enough to make the opening day roster rather than IL.
I wasn’t aware he and Lockett are out of options.
There is however fallout in Gsellman to the minors in favor of one of the two above. Gsellman as the only projected reliever who could be sent down, is the only one who gives the Mets the opportunity of calling up someone on the 40 for fresh arm without exposing someone to waivers.
I suspect the Mets will base their OD roster decisions based on the overall circumstances before them at the time. That will of course include pitching staff health, spring training performance of AAA pen candidates, rosters of other teams who may be inclined to claim from waiver wires.
We must also remember the Brodie mantra last season – the 25 best players make the OD roster, and he did just that. I’m not aware he’s said that for 2020, but that may just be a matter of time.
For the Mets, in choice between Rhame and Lockett, I suspect it will be made on the basis of projected health and stuff, and projected AAA starting pitching options. If Rhame’s not healthy enough, the IL buys time.
Now if we’re left with choice between Gsellman and Lockett, will the Mets opt for the best 26 short term, or consider administrative and depth issues for the season as whole?
The are also other considerations – If Matz doesn’t go to pen, we have just one lefty which hurts us even though the new 3-batter rule mitigates some of that.
And to expand on my comments, if Matz stays in rotation and Mets prefer second lefty in pen, neither Rhame nor Lockett might make the team.
Brodie didn’t really follow through on that best 25 mantra, and I do think options need to be accounted for in the decision making.
That said, I don’t know if Rhame alone should drive Gsellman to the pen.