Paul Sewald

Mets May Have Enough Internal Bullpen Options

With Baseball America‘s Adam Rubin reporting the Mets are considering using low A starter P.J. Conlon out of the bullpen, the Mets are really giving the impression that they may not sign any relief pitchers this offseason. This would coincide with earlier reports the Mets may not have the budget to acquire another player unless the team is able to trade an outfielder, namely Jay Bruce. When considering the difficulties the Mets have in trading Bruce, it’s becoming increasingly more likely the Mets will use internal options to build their bullpen.

The Mets should have varying degrees of confidence in returning relief pitchers Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, and Hansel Robles. Last season, Reed and Familia combined to be the best 8-9 combination in baseball. Robles has shown versatility whether it was his bailing Jim Henderson out of a bases loaded no out jam or pitching 3.2 innings because Bartolo Colon left a game in the first inning with an injury.

While the Mets should have confidence in these three pitchers, they still need at least four other arms to complete their bullpen. Here are the leading options:

RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS

RHP Seth Lugo – While he should get the opportunity to compete with Robert Gsellman for a spot in the rotation, indications are Lugo will land in the bullpen. In limited bullpen duty last year, Lugo was terrific. In his nine relief appearances, he had a 2.65 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Pitching out of the bullpen should also permit Lugo to ramp his fastball up to 95 MPH and throw his curveball, which has the best spin rate in the majors, making him an even more dominant pitcher.

RHP Zack Wheeler – Like Lugo, Wheeler may get an opportunity to pitch in the rotation, but early indications are he will start the year in the bullpen. Wheeler’s fastball-slider combination should play well out of the bullpen, and it should lead to him recording a high number of strikeouts. Conversely, he may have a high amount of walks as well. Unfortunately, Wheeler may not be able to sustain the same workload of a relief pitcher as the Mets will likely want to ease him back after Wheeler missed two years due to Tommy John surgery.

RHP Paul Sewald – With a high 80s to low 90s fastball with a slider in the low 90s with a low 80s slider, Sewald doesn’t have the dominating stuff you would typically look for in a major league reliever. However, despite having “lesser” stuff, Sewald has succeeded at every level of the minor leagues including his being an effective closer for the 51s last year. Despite pitching in an extreme hitter’s league, Sewald had 10 saves with a 1.85 ERA, 0.945 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9 in the second half of the season.

RHP Erik Goeddel – If Goeddel can return to his 2014 – 2015 form, the Mets have a reliever they can rely upon. During that time, he was on the New York – Las Vegas shuttle making 41 major league appearances. Over that stretch, he had a 2.48 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. For many, it was believed Goeddel did it with smoke and mirrors, an impression that was given credence with his 4.54 ERA and 1.318 WHIP in 2016. With Goeddel able to strike out 9.1 batters per nine last year, he has at least shown he can get batters out, and as a result, should get another chance. His success in 2017 is going to depend on his ability to regain some of his fastball velocity or his ability to adapt to pitching without it.

RHP Chase Bradford – Like Sewald, Bradford has fringy stuff with a low 90s fastball and a low to mid 80s slider. However, unlike Sewald, Bradford has struggled in AAA. Over the past three years, Bradford has pitched to a 4.88 ERA, 1.454 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9. It should be noted many pitchers, like Lugo, struggle in Las Vegas, only to have success in the majors.

RHP Ben Rowen – The submarine style Rowen was brought in on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The hope is that Rowen can be a modern version of Chad Bradford in what was an excellent 2006 Mets bullpen. However, given his low 80s fastball, and with both right-handed batters and left-handed batters hitting him hard in his brief 12 major league appearances, this seems more hope than reality.

RHP Rafael Montero – Despite being terrible for the Mets, he somehow remains a part of the Mets organization. As if his presence on the roster wasn’t baffling enough, Sandy Alderson even mentioned him as a possibility for the bullpen. (ESPN). It figures that this year is the year push comes to shove with Montero. Either he is finally going to trust his stuff and throw strikes at the major league level, or the Mets are going to designate him for assignment for someone who can.

RHP Gabriel Ynoa – Ynoa struggled with the Mets last year, but those struggles could have been the result of him being asked to pitch out of the bullpen when he’s never done that before and the team shifting him between the bullpen and rotation late in the year. Fact is Ynoa has real talent. He has a low to mid 90s fastball that he may be able to consistently get in the mid 90s if he was airing it out in the bullpen. His slider is also effective in generating a number of groundballs. With him in the bullpen as opposed to the rotation, he can primarily utilize his two best pitches to get batters out.

LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS

LHP Josh Smoker – There are three things we learned about Smoker last year: (1) he strikes out a lot of batters; (2) left-handed batters absolutely crush him; and (3) he is not effective for more than one inning. Now, if Smoker is able to work with Dan Warthen to develop a slider to get help him get left-handed batters out, he’s got closer potential. If not, he’s still an effective arm out of the bullpen so long as Terry Collins acknowledges his limitations.

LHP Josh Edgin – Even with his reduced velocity, Edgin still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out. Until such time he re-gains his velocity, if it ever were to happen, he should primarily be used as a LOOGY. Now, with Familia, Reed, and Robles each being extremely effective against left-handed batters, the Mets are not in dire need of a LOOGY. Still, in a division with Freddie Freeman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper the Mets could benefit from having more than one pitcher who can get left-handed batters out.

LHP Sean Gilmartin – In 2015, Gilmartin was an important part of the Mets bullpen as the team’s long man. That season, he made 50 appearance pitching 57.1 innings going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Surprisingly, Gilmartin had reverse splits allowing a .216 batting average to right-handed batters and a .260 batting average to left-handed batters. Last, year, Gilmartin began the year in Las Vegas as a starting pitcher. Due to some bullpen issues at the major league level, the Mets had him fly on a red eye and pitch on short rest. Eventually, he would suffer a minor shoulder injury, and his promising season would tail off. Ultimately, the Mets will need a long man in 2017, and there is enough evidence here to suggest Gilmartin can competently fill that roll.

LHP David Roseboom – It’s not common for pitchers to go from AA to the Opening Day roster the next year, but Roseboom may just be capable of doing it. While a closer by trade, who is coming off a season with a 1.87 ERA, he is extremely effective against left-handed batters. Last season, he limited left-handed batters to a .141 batting average. Primarily, Roseboom is a sinker/slider pitcher who also has a change that allows him to remain effective against right-handed batters. While Roseboom primarily sits in the high 80s to the low 90s, he remains effective because he is able to effectively locate his pitches, and he induces a high rate of ground balls.

LHP P.J. Conlon – As touched on above, considering Conlon for the Opening Day roster was a surprise given he has not pitched in AA, he consistently throws in the mid to high 80s, and he was used as a starter last season. Another reason this was a surprise is the Conlon is better against right-handed batters than left-handed batters. The main reason for that is while Conlon is a four pitch pitcher, his out pitch is his change-up. Like with most left-handed pitchers, Conlon’s change-up is more effective against right-handed batters than left. Overall, it is highly unlikely he will make the Opening Day roster, but he should still benefit from the opportunity to further develop his slider.

PREDICTION

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Wheeler seems assured of being in the Opening Day bullpen with Familia, Reed, and Robles. Considering the Mets probably want to add another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, and the fact that he is out of options, Edgin seems to be the next best guess as to a pitcher who will make the r0ster. Based upon their performance in the bullpen last year, it is likely the next two spots go to Lugo and Smoker. Right there, the Mets have a seven man bullpen with an interesting array of arms that can both register strike outs and induce ground balls to try to get a double play to get out of the inning.

If there is an injury, suspension, or someone proves to be ineffective, the Mets have interesting options behind this group in Rowen, Sewald, and Roseboom. There is also Gilmartin and Ynoa who can provide either a spot start or be able to serve in the bullpen if needed.

Ultimately, while you would feel much better with the Mets having at least one more veteran arm in the bullpen like a Jerry Blevins or a Fernando Salas, there is at least enough quality arms in the Mets system that can conceivably build a good bullpen.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

We are headed for another season of Mets baseball where we hope that once again these Mets can make it all the way back to the World Series.  Since 2015, we have seen a definite pattern emerge with the Mets, and I think as Mets fans, we should all try better this year to not react, some would say overreact, when one of the following things we know will happen, happens:

  • The Mets are not going to sign another big name free agent this offseason.  It’s not going to happen, and it just may happen that Jose Bautista winds up in the division and on a fairly discounted deal;
  • Jerry Blevins will sign an extremely reasonable two year deal . . . with another team;
  • Instead of fortifying the bench, the Mets are going to go with this year’s version of Eric Campbell -> Ty Kelly;
  • Terry Collins is going to use and abuse Addison Reed to the point where his arm may actually fall off.  This will go double if Jeurys Familia gets suspended;
  • Hansel Robles is going to go through a stretch in one week where he pitches five innings, 1/3 of an inning, two innings, and three innings, and everyone is going to wonder why his production has fallen off;
  • The infield of Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, and Asdrubal Cabrera will be ridden hard despite their injury histories and capable backups like Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes on the bench;
  • Just pick a random player on the roster – he’s going to be on the DL for over two months with a back injury;
  • There will be a game with Reyes in center and Juan Lagares in right;
  • Travis d’Arnaud is going to get injured, and Kevin Plawecki is not going to be able to replace his bat in the lineup;
  • Matt Harvey will complain about the six man rotation that will be implemented at some point during the season;
  • Robert Gsellman will make an appearance throwing well over 100 pitches in five innings or less;
  • Rene Rivera will hit under the Mendoza Line;
  • T.J. Rivera will be raking in AAA and not get called up despite the Mets needing some offense;
  • Michael Conforto will not face one left-handed pitcher all season;
  • Yoenis Cespedes will not dive for a ball, run out a pop up, or run hard to first on a dropped strike three;
  • Curtis Granderson will have a better OBP than Reyes, but Collins will continue to lead off Reyes and his sub .330 OBP;
  • Collins will not know if Brandon Nimmo is faster than Flores and it will cost them a game;
  • No matter where he winds up this offseason, and no matter how poor his year is going, Chase Utley will hit two home runs in a game he faces the Mets;
  • Sandy Alderson will mortgage a part of the Mets future because he didn’t make a move in the offseason that he should have made;
  • Paul Sewald will pitch well in AAA, but the Mets won’t call him up because they would rather rip Sean Gilmartin or Gabriel Ynoa from the Vegas rotation to make a relief appearance on 2-3 days of rest;
  • Both Josh Smoker and Robles will be fully warmed up, and Collins will go to Smoker to pitch to the lefty;
  • For reasons the Mets themselves can’t quite explain, Rafael Montero will spend the full season on the 40 man roster;
  • d’Arnaud will come off the disabled list, play well for a stretch, and the Mets will lose him and Steven Matz in the same game;
  • Matz will have appendicitis, but the Mets will talk him out of the surgery because they need him to start against the Reds;
  • Dilson Herrera will tear it up every time he plays the Mets;
  • Wherever he lands, Jay Bruce is going to hit 30 homers and 100 RBI;
  • Collins will show up in the dugout without wearing pants, and the Mets still won’t fire him;
  • Noah Syndergaard will get ejected from a game for throwing inside.  A player who takes a bat to one of the Mets infielders in retaliation won’t;
  • Fans will clamor for Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to get called up all season long;
  • Seth Lugo will bounce between the bullpen and rotation so much, MLB is actually going to test him to see if his arm is actually made out of rubber;
  • Bartolo Colon will pitch so poorly against the Mets, fans will wonder why they wanted a bum like him back;
  • R.A. Dickey will not only beat the Mets, but he will throw the team into a week  long offensive funk causing some fans to decry the trade;
  • One or more pitchers will get hurt, and fans that even question if the Warthen Slider could be an issue will be mocked mercilessly;
  • Some way some how Jon Niese will pitch for this team;
  • Rather than build Tom Seaver a statue, the Mets will issue #41 to Niese upon his return to the team;
  • Daniel Murphy will have another terrific year for the Nationals, and some Mets fans will still defend the decision to let him go;
  • Ricky Knapp will make a solid spot start for the Mets causing fans to think he is the second coming;
  • Mets will trade a good prospect for Kelly Johnson; and
  • Despite all of this the Mets will make it to the postseason

Honestly, I give it until April 9th when Collins declares the last game in a three game set against the Marlins is a must-win game.

Mets Internal Bullpen Options

Lets start with the caveat that the non-elite closer bullpen market has yet to fully materialize.  Once Kenley Jansen picks his team, it appears as if the market for the next tier of relievers, which includes possible Mets targets in Brad Ziegler and Koji Uehara, will begin to emerge.  It is also possible the Mets could trade Jay Bruce or some other players for bullpen help.

With those caveats in mind, there are two issues confronting the Mets bullpen.  The first is that many relievers who could help the Mets in 2017 may move out of their price range, especially with Sandy Alderson announcing the team has to reduce its current payroll.  The other obvious issue is the Mets have to somehow contend with the possibility that Jeurys Familia may be gone for a significant portion of the season.  With that in mind, the Mets may very well have to look internally to fill one or more of the holes in their bullpen.

This begs the question about whether they can do it.  Here is a look at some of the options for the 2017 season to determine whether or not the Mets current bullpen issues can be solved internally:

Josh Edgin

2016 MLB Stats: 1-0, 5.23 ERA, 16 G, 10.1 IP, 1.548 WHIP, 9.6 K/9

2016 MiLB Stats: 2-2, 3.11 ERA, 43 G, 37.2 IP, 1.540 WHIP, 10.8 K/9

In his first season back from Tommy John surgery, the biggest thing that stuck out for Edgin was his loss of velocity.  Once, Edgin was a reliever who came out of the bullpen throwing 94 MPH.  In 2016, Edgin loss three MPH off his fastball, and as a result, he went from limiting right-handed batters to a .219/.286/.250 batting line in his breakout 2014 season to a .300/.400/.500 batting line in 2016.

It should be noted the numbers from the 2014 and 2016 seasons are both relatively small sample sizes.  Additionally, Edgin continued to pitch well against left-handed batters in 2016 limiting them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line.  With that Edgin proved he can still be an effective LOOGY out of the pen even with this reduced velocity.  If Edgin were to regain that velocity, he can fully take over the role left vacated by Jerry Blevins.

Sean Gilmartin

2016 MLB Stats: 0-1, 7.13 ERA, 14 G, GS, 17.2 IP, 1.585 WHIP, 5.6 K/9

2016 MiLB Stats: 9-7, 4.86 ERA, 19 G, 18 GS, 107.1 IP, 1.425 WHIP, 7.9 K/9

Despite Gilmartin being an important part of the Mets 2015 bullpen, the team decided it was better for him to work on being a starting pitcher in AAA rather than him reprising his role as the long man in the bullpen.  While he started out well for the 51s, he would eventually begin to suffer some shoulder discomfort, which required a stint on the disabled list, and his stats would suffer from there.  It probably didn’t help that the Mets expected him to take cross-country flights and make multiple inning appearances out of the bullpen with three days of rest or less.  Ultimately, we have seen Gilmartin be successful in the major leagues out of the bullpen, and accordingly, we should not discount the possibility he will be successful out of the bulllpen again in 2017.

Seth Lugo

2016 MLB Stats: 5-2, 2.67 ERA,  17 G, 8 GS, 64.0 IP, 1.094 WHIP, 6.3 K/9

2016 MiLB Stats: 3-4, 6.50, 21 G, 14 GS, 73.1 IP, 1.677 WHIP, 7.6 K/9

After Lugo struggled in AAA, he was taken out of the rotation, and he was put in the bullpen.  For a guy that can max out his fastball over 95 MPH and has a terrific curveball, it seemed like the best place for him in a Mets organization with plenty of pitching depth.  When he first came up to the majors and made Anthony Rizzo look foolish with his curveball, it seemed like Lugo had a home in the bullpen.

However, with the starting pitching injuries mounting, Lugo was thrust into the rotation.  With a postseason berth on the line, he combined with fellow rookie Robert Gsellman to pitch extremely well.  It is now debatable as to whether or not the bullpen is the best use of Lugo’s talents.  It is all the more debatable when you consider the Mets rotation has some injury concerns and is likely going to deal with some innings limits.  With that in mind, while Lugo has certainly proven himself to be an effective reliever, he may be best suited to either the fifth spot in the rotation, or starting the year in the AAA rotation and being ready for the first opportunity that arises.

Paul Sewald

2016 MiLB Stats: 5-3, 3.29 ERA, 56 G, 19 SV, 65.2 IP, 1.203 WHIP, 11.0 K/9

With Sewald not being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, he is now a possibility to be a part of the Mets bullpen in 2017.  The issue with Sewald is his stuff is not that impressive with him only topping out in the low 90s with his fastball.  However, that overlooks the fact that he has a good slider which he uses as an out pitch, and the fact he rarely walks batters.  In his minor league career, he has only walked 59 batters in 258.0 innings pitched.

Another factor to consider is how well he pitched in the Pacific Coast League, which is a hitter’s haven.  In the second half of the season, Sewald made 20 appearances going 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA, 10 saves, 0.95 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9.  In looking over his entire minor league career, Sewald has rarely walked batters, has struck out over 10 batters per nine, has had low ERAs, and has consistently been a good closer.  With his experience, talent, and the Mets catchers excellent pitch framing, there is every reason to believe Sewald has a legitimate chance to be a good reliever in the major leagues.

Josh Smoker

2016 MLB Stats: 3-0, 4.70 ERA, 20 G, 15.1 IP, 1.304 WHIP, 14.7 K/9

2016 MiLB Stats: 3-2, 4.11 ERA, 52 G, 57.0 IP, 1.474 WHIP, 12.8 K/9

The Smoker we saw with the Mets was essentially the Smoker that we have seen in his minor league career.  Smoker is a one inning reliever who strikes out a lot of batters, but he has reverse splits.  Whereas Edgin is a LOOGY, Smoker is somehow a left-handed ROOGY that gets tattooed by left-handed hitting.  Another issue for Smoker is he is only good for one inning.  Every single outing he was asked to go over one inning by the Mets, he allowed a home run.

Still, there is a place for a pitcher like Smoker in the bullpen.  His ability to generate strikeouts at a level as high as he does is rare, and it is very valuable.

Zack Wheeler

2014 Stats: 11-11, 3.54 ERA, 32 G, 32 GS, CG, SHO, 185.1 IP, 1.327 WHIP, 9.1 K/9

With Wheeler missing two seasons, the Mets have already bandied the idea of putting Wheeler and his 96 MPH fastball in the bullpen.  On the one hand, it seems like it is a good opportunity for Wheeler to get back to pitching to major league batters while keeping his inning down after missing the past two seasons while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

There are some issues with Wheeler in the bullpen.  The first is he has a tendency to lose the strike zone which is a huge problem for short inning relievers.  The second is, as we saw with Jim Henderson, Terry Collins has a tendency to overlook his relievers injury issues and overwork them anyway.  The third and final issue is what type of reliever will he be?  Is he going to be a multi-inning reliever who will be shut down for a couple of days afterwards, or is he going to be a one inning reliever expected to air it out for one inning.

The answer to that and many other questions will be resolved once the Mets ultimately decide what Wheeler is.  Is he someone that can rejoin the rotation, or is he someone forever slated to the bulllpen?  At this point, it is hard to know the answer.

Overall, the Mets have plenty of internal options to fill-out their bullpen.  Indeed, if they were to use only internal options, it is possible the Mets could build themselves a very good bullpen.  However, if the Mets were to purely stick with internal options, it remains possible the Mets may expose their starting rotation by not having pitchers like Gilmartin, Lugo, or Wheeler sufficiently stretched out to start.

Ulimately, the Mets would be wise to use some of their internal options to help build their bullpen in 2017.  With that said, the team is still going to need to obtain one or two relievers before the end of the offseason.

Trivia Friday – Mets Rule 5 Draft Picks

Yesterday, the Mets dodged a bullet with neither Paul Sewald or Phillip Evans being drafted in the Rule 5 Draft.  With the Mets having a full 40 man roster, they were effectively prevented from selecting a player in the Rule 5 Draft.  However, in the past, the team was able to drafted very useful players who helped the major league team.  Can you name all of the players the Mets have selected in the Rule 5 Draft?  Good luck!


Bob Moorhead, Aubrey Gatewood, Ted Schreiber, Don Rowe, John Bukowski, Richard Gardner, Jerry Hinsley, Robert Nash, Billy Murphy, Bill Hepler, Tommie Reynolds, Bart Shirley, John Sullivan, Clyde Mashore, Don Wilkinson, Wayne Garrett, Jorge Roque, Rogers Brown, Billy Smith, Charlie Corbell, Brad Knackert, Doug Simons, Mike Draper, Kelly Stinnett, Kevin Lomon, Kevin Northrup, Jim Baron, Jim Mann, Julio Santana, Mitch Wylie, Steven Register, Darren O’Day, Rocky Cherry, Carlos Monasterios, Brad Emaus, Pedro Beato, Kyle Lobstein, Seth Rosin, Sean Gilmartin

Frank Brooks

Who Could Replace a Suspended Jeurys Familia?

With Jeurys Familia having been arrested under suspicion of domestic violence, there are a number of questions that need to be asked and answered.  While it may seem tactless, at some point, we need to ask the question of how does this arrest impact the Mets organization.

Over the past two seasons, Familia has been leaned on heavily by Terry Collins, and Familia has responded.  In his two years as the Mets closer, Familia has made more appearances, converted more saves, pitched more innings, and finished more games than any other closer in Major League Baseball.  He has at least appeared to be the rare durable closer that can be relied upon year in and year out.

Many times Familia has not been given much of a margin of error.  For far too many stretches in 2015 and 2016, the Mets have found themselves desperate for offense putting a ton of pressure on their starters and their best relievers.  This past season Familia and Addison Reed combined to be the best 8-9 combination in all of baseball.  With the possibility of Yoenis Cespedes leaving in free agency, the uncertainty of the health of Neil Walker and whether he can return next season, and the myriad of other offensive question marks, the bullpen is once again going to be of great importance in 2017.

That’s where things get tricky with Familia.  While he has stated he is not guilty of the crimes, we have seen Major League Baseball levy suspensions for players regardless of criminal charges being filed or in the absence of a conviction.  The police never filed charges against Aroldis Chapman, and still he was suspended 30 games.  The charges against Jose Reyes were dropped, and he was suspended for 51 games.  If a Major League Baseball investigation finds Familia committed an act of domestic violence, it is possible he could miss 30 or more games to start the season.

With Reed, the Mets do have an internal option to close.  From 2012 – 2014, Reed served as a closer for the White Sox and the Diamondbacks.  In that time, he averaged 34 saves per season.  While his 4.22 ERA and 1.217 WHIP left a lot to be desired, it is important to note Reed has been a different pitcher since coming to the Mets.  As a Met, he has a 1.84 ERA and a 0.957 WHIP.  Certainly, Reed has shown the ability in the past to be a closer, and with the Mets Reed has shown the ability to be a dominant reliever.  Therefore, from a closing standpoint, the Mets have an internal option.

The real issue becomes who takes Reed’s spot in the bullpen.

Hansel Robles has shown a lot of promise.  He has struck out 10.0 batters per nine in his career, and he is effective getting left-handed batters out.  However, he is also mercurial in his performance, and slotting him into the eighth inning takes away one of his key attributes which is he is a guy that you can use for multiple innings or to get a big out.

Josh Smoker had great strikeout numbers in both the minors and in the majors this season.  In fact, he struck out 14.7 batters per nine.  However, he has severe reverse splits, and each time Collins asked him to pitch more than one inning this year, he allowed a home run in his second inning of work.

Seth Lugo could be an inspired choice to take over the eighth inning.  As we saw this season, the Mets envisioned his future role with the team coming out of the bullpen, and Lugo was effective in his limited time out of the pen for the Mets.  However, we also saw he was an effective starter, and with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz coming off season ending surgeries, we were reminded you cannot have enough starting pitching depth.

There are minor league pitchers such as Paul Sewald who could be effective.  However, with the Mets not turning to them in September, it is highly unlikely they will rely on them to be the seventh or eighth inning reliever to start the season.  It is further unlikely with him being subjected to the Rule 5 Draft.  It is very likely someone will pick him up in the draft.

From there, the Mets do not have many internal options.  In reality, this means with Familia potentially missing a significant portion of the season, the Mets will likely have to look on the free agent market to fill in the gap.

The first name that comes to mind is Fernando Salas.  In his limited time with the Mets, he was very effective.  In fact, he had the same reversal of fortune that Reed did in 2015.  Still, there is caution in over relying on a pitcher with a career 3.64 ERA to replace one of your two best bullpen arms.

There are a number of intriguing set-up men on the free agent market.  There is Joe Blanton who had a 2.48 ERA in 75 appearances for the Dodgers.  Former Met Joe Smith has been a good reliever for 10 years, and during the stretch drive with the Cubs this year, he had a a 2.51 ERA in 16 appearances.  Brad Ziegler is coming off a terrific year as a closer for the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox.  There are a bunch of other names as well.  However, as we have seen as recently as last year with Antonio Bastardo, many middle reliever performances tend to fluctuate year to year.  This leaves you wondering not only how to replace that player’s role in the bullpen, but also how to get out from under the contract.

Therefore, if you are going to add a reliever you should go after the dominant closer in free agency.  While there is debate over whether or not they are more of a sure thing, we do know there are three great closers available this offseason.

We can pick nits over who is better among the trio of Chapman, Kenley Jansen, or Mark Melancon.  However, the one underlying truth with any of those three is if you have one of them, you have a dominant closer in your bullpen.  As we have seen with Familia over the past two seasons, you are lucky to have any of these dominant closers.  With one of those three joining Reed, and eventually Familia, the Mets would have a bullpen similar to the one the Indians have rode all the way to the World Series.

The Mets will also have a lot of money invested in their bullpen.  According to the Los Angeles Times, it is believed that Jansen will not only receive and reject the $17.2 million qualifying offer, but also he will eventually sign a contract surpassing Jonathan Papelbon‘s then record setting five year $50 million contract.  With Jansen on the free agent market, and big budget teams like the Dodgers chasing after him, there is no telling how high the bidding will go for him.

For their part, Chapman and Melancon cannot receive qualifying offers as a result of them being traded in-season.  At least conceptually, that could drive up their prices as well because more teams may be interested in them because they will not have to forfeit a draft pick to obtain them.  Teams like the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, and who knows who else could be interested leading to each of them getting a huge contract.

This begs the question whether the Mets can even afford to pursue a big time closer.  Likely, they cannot.

According to Mets Merized Online, the Mets will have approximately $108 million wrapped up in 18 players who should make the Opening Day roster.  That number does not include money to re-sign Cespedes, Walker, Jerry Blevins, Bartolo Colon, or the aforementioned Salas.  If the Mets were to re-sign these players, or players of similar value to replace them, the Mets payroll is going to go well over $160 million.  Accoring to Spotrac, the Mets finished the 2016 season with a $156 million payroll.  It should be noted this amount does not include any insurance reimbursements related to David Wright‘s season ending neck surgery.

With that in mind, the Mets likely do not have the budget necessary to add a Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon.  If the Mets were to add one of them, it is likely to come at the expense of Cespedes or Walker.  While having a dominant trio to close out ballgames in enticing, the Mets would first need offense to get enough runs to give that bullpen a lead.  This puts a greater priority on Cespedes and Walker.

In the long run, the Mets best bet is to play out the entire process with Familia.  If there is a suspension, Reed can be an effective closer.  Re-signing Salas and/or bringing in a Ziegler would help as well.  It would behoove the Mets to roll the dice on a reclamation project like a Greg Holland or a Drew Storen because in reality that is the position the Mets are in budget-wise.

Mets Have Rule 5 Decisions to Make

With the Mets adding Gavin Cecchini to the 40 man roster to sit on the bench as the Mets are chasing down a Wild Card spot, the team had one less decision to make on who should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason.  Even if the Mets didn’t add Cecchini now, he was going to be added in the offseason.  Cecchini is too valuable a prospect, and he would be snatched up immediately in the Rule 5 Draft.

Cecchini was not the only player the Mets were going to have to make a decision on this offseason.  In fact, the Mets have to make a decision on 66 different prospects about whether or not they should be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.  Here is a review of some of the more notable Mets prospects that need to be added to the 40 man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft:

AMED ROSARIO

SS Amed Rosario (Advanced A & AA) .324/.374/.459, 24 2B, 13 3B, 5 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB

Yes, if it hasn’t been apparent this entire year, Rosario is in a class all by himself.  If he’s not added to the 40 man roster someone is getting fired.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

1B/3B Matt Oberste (AA) .283/340/.409, 21 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 1 SB

One issue that has plagued Oberste his entire minor league career is he has to fight for at bats as he is usually behind a bigger Mets prospect.  That has been literally and figuratively Dominic Smith (who is not yet Rule 5 eligible).  Oberste was an Eastern League All Star; however, the issue that is always going to hold him back is the fact that he is a corner infielder that does not hit for much power. Most likely, Oberste will not be added to the 40 man roster.

CF Champ Stuart (Advanced A & AA) .240/.314/.349, 12 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 40 SB

Stuart is an elite defensive outfielder that has speed on the bases as evidenced by him stealing 40 bases this season.  The issue with Stuart is he is a maddening offensive player.  He went from hitting .265/.347/.407 in 71 games for Advanced A St. Lucie to hitting .201/.264/.261 in 43 games for AA Binghamton.  While he certainly has the tools to possibly be a big leauger one day, he’s too far away at this point.  Also, with teams putting more of a premium on offense than defense, it’s likely he will not be protected, and he will go undrafted.

C Tomas Nido ( Advanced A) .320/.357/.459, 23 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 0 SB

This year was a breakout season defensively and offensively for the Florida State League batting champion.  Normally, with Nido never having played a game in AA, the Mets would be able to leave him unprotected and be assured he wouldn’t be drafted.  However, with catcher being such a difficult position to fill, it’s possible a bad team like the Braves takes a flyer on him and keeps him as the second or third stringer catcher all year.  It’s exactly how the Mets lost Jesus Flores to the Nationals many years ago.

SP Marcos Molina 2015 Stats (Rookie & Advanced A) 9 G, 8 GS, 1-5, 4.26 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.9 K/9

Molina did not pitch for the Mets organization for the entire 2016 season as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery.  The Arizona Fall League will be his first time facing batters in a game since his eight starts for St. Lucie in 2015.  It’s likely he will go unprotected and undrafted.

ARMS THAT COULD HELP IN 2017

RHP Paul Sewald (AAA) 56 G, 5-3, 19 saves, 3.29 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.0 K/o

In many ways, it is surprising that a Mets bullpen that was looking for an extra arm never turned to Sewald.  While he struggled to start the season like most pitchers transitioning to the Pacific Coast League do, Sewald figured it out and had a terrific second half with 10 saves, a 1.85 ERA, and a 0.95 WHIP.  Sewald should be protected.  In the event he isn’t, he should be as good as gone.

RHP Beck Wheeler (AA & AAA) 47 G, 0-3, 6 saves, 5.98 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 12.1 K/9

Wheeler went unprotected and undrafted last year, and based upon the numbers he put up in his time split between Binghamton and Las Vegas, it appears the same thing will happen this year.  The one reservation is like with the Braves interest in Akeel Morris, teams will always take fliers on guys with mid 90s fastballs who can generate a lot of strikeouts.  It just takes one team to think they can help him reduce his walk rate for him to go in the Rule 5 draft.

RHP Chasen Bradford (5 saves, 4.80 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) – Bradford regressed statistically from last year in large part because he is a sinker/slider pitcher that pitches to contact.  On the bright side, he walks very few batters meaning if you have good infield defense, he will be a successful pitcher for your team.  His numbers should scare off a number of teams in the Rule 5 draft just like it did last year.

RHP Ricky Knapp (Advanced A & AA) 25 G, 24 GS, 13-6, 2.69 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.3 K/9

Knapp started the year in St. Lucie, and he finished it with a spot start in Las Vegas.  Knapp doesn’t have any plus pitches, but he gets the most out of all of his pitches because he is excellent at hitting his spots.  He is a very polished product that is best suited to being a starting pitcher.  Since he doesn’t strike out many batters, teams will most likely pass on him in the Rule 5 draft.

RHP Luis Mateo (AA & AAA) 51 G, 4-4, 1 save, 2.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.0 K/9

He’s a fastball/slider pitcher with a low 90s fastball that generates a fair share of groundball outs while keeping the ball in the ballpark.  While his ERA should entice teams, his WHIP and strikeout rate may keep them away just like it did last year when the Mets left him exposed to the Rule 5 draft.  He will most likely begin next year in AAA.

RISING PROFILES

2B/3B/SS Phillip Evans (Advanced A & AA) .321/.366/.460, 30 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB

The Eastern League Batting Champion certainly raised his profile with a much improved offensive season.  He’s starting to become more selective at the plate and learn how to be less of a pull hitter.  The main issue for Evans is he may not have a position.  While he can make all the plays at the infield positions, he lacks range to be a solid middle infielder.  He also lacks the arm strength and power numbers you would want at third base.

RHP Chris Flexen (Advanced A, AA, AAA) 25 GS, 10-9, 3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.4 K/9

Flexen appears to be in the mold of a typical Mets pitching prospect in that he has a high 90’s fastball and a good slider.  Despite the repertoire, he is not generating a lot of strikeouts right now.  On the bright side, he does generate a number of ground balls while limiting home runs.   He was rumored to be part of the initial Jay Bruce trade that fell apart due to an unnamed prospect’s physical (does not appear to be him).  A second division club like the Reds could take a flyer on him and put him in the bullpen for a year to gain control over him despite him never having pitched at a level higher than Advanced A St. Lucie.

RHP Tyler Bashlor (Full Season & Advanced A) 54 G,  4-3, 2.75 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 11.8 K/9

While the 5’11” Bashlor is short on stature, he has a big arm throwing a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider which he used to dominate in the Sally League.  Bashlor used these pitches to strike out 11.8 batters per nine innings.  Like Flexen, there is danger exposing a big arm like this even if the highest level of experience he has is four games for Advanced A St. Lucie.

RHP Kevin McGowan (Advanced A & AA) 42 G, 4 GS, 2 saves, 2.35 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.9 K/9

McGowan is a fastball/changeup pitcher that still needs to develop a breaking pitch.  While that fastball/changeup combination has been good enough to get batters out at the lower levels of the minor leagues, he is going to need another pitch if he is going to progress as a pitcher.

DISAPPOINTING SEASONS

RF Wuilmer Becerra (Advanced A) .312/.341/.393, 17 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 34 RBI, 7 SB

Around the time of the Rule 5 Draft last year, the debate was whether a bad team like the Braves would take a flyer on Becerra just to get the promising young outfielder into their organization.  Unfortunately, Becerra would have a shoulder injury that would rob him of his budding power.  More importantly, that shoulder injury would require surgery ending his season after just 65 games.

1B/3B Jhoan Urena (Advanced A) .225/.301/.350, 17 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB

With the emergence of David Thompson, Urena was pushed from third to first.  However, that isn’t what was most troubling about his season.  In fact, many questioned whether he could stay at third given his frame.  The issue was the switch hitting Urena stopped hitting for power this season.  With his not hitting for power, Rosario’s best friend in the minors should go undrafted in the Rule 5 Draft.

LHP Paul Paez (Advanced A & AA) 34 G, 4-1, 3.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.9 K/9

This year Paez failed to distinguish himself by not pitching particularly well for St. Lucie and then struggling in Binghamton.  He only has a high 80’s fastball and lacks a true swing and miss breaking pitch.  While lefties hitting .308 off of him this year, he may not even have a future as a LOOGY in a major league bullpen.

NEEDS TIME TO DEVELOP

OF Patrick Biondi (Advanced A) .271/.352/.332, 17 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 34 RBI, 26 SB

While Biondi’s stats look good on the surface, it should be noted at 25 years old, he is old for the level.  On the bright side, Biondi has speed and is a good defender in CF.  However, until he starts getting on base more frequently, he will not be considered for the 40 man roster.

RHP Nabil Crismatt (Short & Full Season A) 13 G, 7 GS, 1-4, 1 Save, 2.47 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 10.1 K/9

Crismatt is only 21, but he is mature in terms of his ability to control his changeup and curveball and throw them at any point in the count.  Couple that with a low 90s fastball that could gain velocity as he ages, and you have someone who has the repertoire to be a major leaguer.  However, considering he hasn’t faced stiff competition yet in his career, he is nowhere ready for the majors, at least not yet.

2B/3B/SS Jeff McNeil 2015 Season (Advanced A & AA) .308/.369/.377, 18 2B, 6 3B, 1 HR, 40 RBI, 16 SB

Coming into the season, McNeil appeared to be more mature physically and at the plate.  He seemed ready to begin hitting for more power while still being able to handle 2B defensively.  Unfortunately, he would only play in three games this season for Binghamton before going on the disabled list needing season ending sports hernia surgery.

RHP Tim Peterson (Advanced A & AA) 48 G, 4-1, 2 saves, 3.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 12.3 K/9

At each and every level Peterson has pitched, he has shown the ability to strike people out with a fastball that touches on the mid 90s and a plus curveball.  The only issue for him in his career so far was his PED suspension in 2014.

AAAA PLAYERS

OF Travis Taijeron (AAA) .275/.372/.512, 42 2B, 5 3B, 19 HR, 88 RBI, 1 SB

Taijeron continued to do what he does best, which is get on base and hit for power.  Despite a strong Spring Training and another solid offensive season, the Mets really showed no interest in calling him up to the majors.  He will most likely go unprotected, but maybe this year a team out there desperate for some power in the outfield or on the bench will give him a shot.

2B L.J. Mazzilli (AA & AAA) .239/.320/.348, 18 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 8 SB

Lee Mazzilli‘s son is a grinder out there who plays a decent second base.  Unfortunately, it appears his bat will prevent him from ever getting a real shot to ever play in the big league.

PREDICTIONS

Guaranteed: Rosario

Likely: Flexen, Nido

Bubble: Bashlor, Knapp, McGowan, Sewald, Wheeler

As for the remaining players, the Mets may very well gamble exposing them to the Rule 5 Draft and potentially lose them to another team.  It is also possible the Mets unexpectedly protect a player like Knapp.  In any event, the Mets have a number of important decisions to make that can have far reaching implications.

 

 

Paul Sewald Deserves a Shot

The Mets have a back-end of the bullpen problem as no one has stepped up to claim that final spot.

For the second straight night, Sean Gilmartin had a tough outing. Overall, it has been a lost year for him with his shoulder injury and the fact that he has an 8.10 ERA in the majors this year.

He took over the spot of Erik Goeddel, who has had a disappointing year. He has a history of injuries, and he has been overworked by Terry Collins. The end result is a 4.55 ERA in 29 appearances.

One of the pleasant surprises to the season that Terry Collins helped ruined is Jim Henderson. Since coming off the disabled list, he has allowed two runs in 2.2 innings. In 29 appearances since throwing a career high 34 pitches, Henderson has a 4.74 ERA and a 1.378 WHIP.

Another nice story is Josh Smoker, who has fought his way from the Independent Leagues to the majors. Still, he has a 6.75  ERA with a 1.750 WHIP in five appearances.

Smoker has taken the place of Josh Edgin who has not fully regained his velocity in his first season after Tommy John surgery. In his limited appearances, he has a 9.82 ERA and a 1.909 WHIP.

In addition to these relievers, the Mets have tried some starters in the pen. Collins showed he had no use for Rafael Montero, who justified Collins’ refusal to play him, by pitching poorly when he finally got a shot. Gabriel Ynoa struggled out of the pen. With Steven Matz going on the disabled list, Robert Gsellman is in the rotation. Furthermore, with the Mets needing to skip a Jacob deGrom start, Montero will start on Monday.

The Mets have searched high and low, and they still haven’t found the answer in the bullpen. They haven’t found the pitcher who will be both effective and be able to allow Collins to give the overworked Hansel RoblesAddison Reed, and Jeurys Familia a break. It’s frustrating because the Mets have seemingly looked everywhere for a solution.

That is everywhere but Las Vegas 51s closer Paul Sewald. It’s strange the Mets haven’t turned to Sewald as he’s certainly merited a call-up.

In 52 appearances, Sewald is 5-3 with 19 saves, a 3.52 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and an astounding 11.2 K/9.  Further justifying a call-up is the fact that Sewald is currently pitching the best he has all year. After the All Star Break, Sewald has saved six games with a 2.25 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and a 12.6 K/9 in 16 appearances. These numbers are all the more impressive when you consider Sewald is doing this in the extremely hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.

Consider current Mets savior Seth Lugo had a 7.73 ERA in the Pacific Coast League, and he has a 2.51 ERA in the majors. As Lugo had showed, success at the majors is all about a pitcher’s arsenal.

Sewald has similar stuff to Reed, who has been brilliant since coming under the tutelage of pitching coach Dan Warthen. Sewald features a low nineties fastball and a plus slider. He maximizes on his repertoire by studying scouting reports. It also helps that Sewald pounds the strike zone. Long story short he had the stuff to compete at the major league level.

The only question is whether he will get the chance. He should as the Mets have looked elsewhere and still haven’t found someone they can rely upon in the back end of the bullpen. They should be able to rely on Sewald.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net

Rafael Montero Is a Non-Starter for the Mets

In the offseason, the Mets have more 40 man roster decisions looming.  Here are some notable Mets minor leaguers who will be needed to be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft:

  1. Amed Rosario
  2. Wuilmer Becerra
  3. Gavin Cecchini
  4. Marcos Molina
  5. Paul Sewald
  6. Travis Taijeron
  7. Paul Paez
  8. Phillip Evans
  9. Champ Stuart
  10. Chase Bradford

There are many other roster choices the Mets will have to make aside from the aforementioned players.  With that the Mets are going to have to make some tough 40 man decisions.  With the Mets refusal to call-up Rafael Montero, he certainly stands to be one of the first people cut from the roster.  With that in mind, isn’t it in the Mets best interests to find out what they have in him?

At this point in his career, Montero was supposed to be a fixture in the Mets rotation, or at the very least, a part of the Mets bullpen.  Instead, he is stuck in AA, and he appears on his way out of the Mets organization.

The beginning of the end was last year when he complained of a shoulder injury after being demoted.  The Mets insisted he should be able to pitch through it while Montero stated he couldn’t.  It led to Terry Collins giving him a pep talk during a Mets road trip to Miami last August.  Collins then lectured Montero in Spring Training about how he needed to step it up; how it was supposed to be him instead of Bartolo Colon for the fifth spot.  Montero wouldn’t make it out of the first inning in his first Spring Training start, and he would be part of the first group of players demoted to Minor League Spring Training.

Due to a short Steven Matz start and a taxed bullpen, Montero would get called up to pitch out of the bullpen.  Even in obvious situations to use him, Collins refused.  Montero would go over a week without pitching a game, and when he did pitch, Montero would show his rust.  In his two appearances, he pitched 2.1 innings with an alarming 11.57 ERA.  Montero would be demoted.  It wouldn’t be his last demotion.

After going 4-6 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.888 WHIP in 16 AAA starts, he was sent down to AA where he has thrived.  In eight starts, Montero has gone 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP.  It is the best Montero has pitched in his professional career.  Arguably, Montero has become the Mets best minor league pitcher.  Still, the Mets have routinely passed him over.

When Matt Harvey went down for the season, the Mets turned to Logan Verrett.  When Verrett proved he couldn’t be a starting pitcher at the major league level, the Mets went to Jon Niese and his 5.20 ERA to take the fifth spot.  The Mets chose a struggling Gabriel Ynoa as insurance for Niese.  When Steven Matz first had his start skipped, the Mets went with Seth Lugo in the rotation.  Now that Matz is on the disabled list, Lugo is firmly in the rotation.  With Niese going on the disabled list and Robert Gsellman performing admirably in relief last night, Gsellman is going to take Niese’s sport in the rotation, which used to be Verrett’s spot, which used to be Harvey’s spot.  Point is the Mets are going through a lot of pitchers before even considering Montero.

The Mets didn’t even so much as call-up Montero to take Ynoa’s or Gsellman’s spot in the AAA rotation.  They didn’t go to Montero for a spot start or to go back to the bullpen.  The Mets went with Ynoa and Gsellman despite them not being relievers and with Montero having experience as a reliever.  It’s likely the Mets won’t turn to Montero unless there is another rash of injuries to the pitching staff, and perhaps not even then.  It is possible the Mets will call him up September 1st, but given Collins apparent unwillingness to use him, it’s extremely doubtful he will even appear in a game.

Fact is Montero is done with the Mets, and he is merely occupying a very valuable 40 man roster spot.  A roster spot the Mets could have used to protect Dario Alvarez, a very valuable reliever the Mets lost for  nothing.  A roster spot the Mets will need to protect a prospect who still has a future with the team.  Montero has no future with the Mets, and the Mets aren’t even going to see what they have in him before he leaves the team.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors

Mets Potential Bullpen Targets

Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia have combined to hold the lead in 33 of 34 chances in which they have been given a lead in the eighth inning or later.  Jerry Blevins, the purported LOOGY, has actually held right-handed batters to a lower batting average while pitching to a 2.08 ERA.  Hansel Robles has been a veritable Swiss Army knife in the bullpen.  One day, he’s pitching 3.2 innings to help preserve the bullpen after a starter gets knocked out a game early.  The next, he’s coming into the game to get the Mets out of a no out bases loaded situation unscathed.  With these arms, the Mets have a dominating bullpen.

However, behind these arms is a question mark.  Jim Henderson has started to pitch well in his rehab assignment.  However, he has been a different pitcher since his ill advised April 13th appearance.  Seth Lugo has pitched six scoreless innings over three appearances.  However, each of these appearances were in low pressure situations, and Terry Collins does not appear to trust him enough to try him in a pressure situation.  Erik Goeddel entered the season with a 2.48 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9, but he has struggled this year pitching to a 4.50 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, and an 8.4 K/9.  There remains intriguing options in the minors like Josh Edgin, Josh Smoker, and Paul Sewald.  Between this group, the Mets could piece together a fine bullpen.  However, as the Mets are in heat for playoff spot, they do not want to take any chances.

The Mets are even more committed to finding that one bullpen piece considering how the team now has some question marks in the rotation with Matt Harvey‘s season ending surgery, Steven Matz‘s bone spurs, and Noah Syndergaard‘s dead arm.  According to Marc Carig, the Mets lost out on Kevin Jepsen and believe the pricetag for Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress will be too high.  Further hampering the Mets pursuit are the trades the team has made over the past year and a half.  Still, they are looking to preferably add a reliever who can lock down the seventh inning thereby taking some stress off their starting pitchers.  With that in mind, here are some options the Mets could pursue:

Jeremy Jeffress – As noted the pricetag should be high as Jeffress has the Brewers closer has recorded 23 saves with a 2.35 ERA and a 3.39 WHIP.  He is also under team control until 2020.

John Axford – Axford has some ugly numbers this year with a 5.21 ERA and a 1.579 WHIP for the last place Oakland Athletics.  However, it should be noted that his velocity is still there and he still has the same bite on his curveball.  A new voice and a pennant race could rejuvenate him.  It should also be noted in the postseason, Axford has a 1.42 ERA, 1.026 WHIP, and a 12.8 K/9.

Brad Hand – Like many relievers, Hand has seemingly figured things out in San Diego after having mostly struggled in his first five years with the Marlins.  He has a 2.94 ERA and a 1.269 WHIP this year as opposed to the 4.71 ERA and 1.424 WHIP he had with the Marlins.  Part of the reason for his success is his increased use of his slider which is a pitch that has generated a high percentage of swings and misses.  Hand does profile as the type of pitcher Dan Warthen has had success with during his tenure with the Mets.

Ryan Buchter – The 29 year old career minor leaguer and Sewell, New Jersey native has taken full advantage of his first read shot in the majors with a 2.41 ERA, a 1.098 WHIP, and a 12.5 K/9 in 44 appearances.  Like what Antonio Bastardo was supposed to be, he is a cross-over lefty.  Like his teammate Hand, he relies upon his fastball and slider to get outs.  However, unlike Hand, he throws it with greater velocity with a 94 MPH fastball and an 87 MPH slider.  Again, he is the type of pitcher that typically fairs well under Dan Warthen’s tutelage.

Chris Withrow – In his first season post-Tommy John, Withrow has a 3.38 ERA and a 1.313 WHIP in 33 appearances for the woeful Atlanta Braves.  He is a Mets kind of pitcher as he is a power pitcher out the bullpen that has a mid nineties fastball and a high eighties slider.  He may not come cheap as he is under team control until 2020, and the Braves consider him their future closer.

Tyler Clippard – The main thing that will prevent Clippard from becoming a Met is his contract.  He is in the first year of a two year $12.25 million contract that will pay him $6.15 million next year.  Further diminishing the chances of a reunion is the fact that Clippard is having a career worst season with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP.  Like with Axford, the much cheaper option, the Mets would be hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.  Like with Jose Reyes, the Mets would be hoping he is energized by putting on a Mets uniform again.

Adding one or more of these players should improve the Mets bullpen.  Regardless of whether or not the team adds one of these pitchers, or somebody else all together, they need Familia, Reed, Blevins, and Robles to continue pitching well out of the pen.  They also need Bastardo to figure things out sooner rather than later as it is his struggles that are precipitating this bullpen search. 

First Half Mets Minor League Pitching Leaders

Currently, MLB and many of their full season affiliates are at the All Star Break. At each and every level, the Mets had a minor league pitcher named to their level’s All-Star Game. Listed below is a synopsis of the Mets’ organizations leaders at the break:

Class A Full Season – Columbia Fireflies

Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets

Double-A – Binghamton Mets

Triple-A – Las Vegas 51s

  • Wins: Sean Gilmartin, Gabriel Ynoa (9)
  • Saves: Paul Sewald (9)
  • Strikeouts: Sean Gilmartin (77)
  • ERA: Gabriel Ynoa (4.19)
  • WHIP: Sean Gilmartin (1.32)
  • Games: Chasen Bradford, Josh Smoker (38)
  • Starts: Gabriel Ynoa (18 – League Leader)
  • Innings: Gabriel Ynoa (109.2)
  • Holds: Josh Smoker (9)
  • All-Stars: Gabriel Ynoa
  • Promotions: Seth Lugo

Organizational Leaders

  • Wins: P.J. Conlon COL & STL (10)
  • Saves: Alex Palsha COL (14)
  • Strikeouts: Joe Shaw COL, Tyler Pill BNG (88)
  • ERA: P.J. Conlon COL & STL (1.97)
  • WHIP: P.J. Conlon COL & STL (1.03)
  • Games: Chasen Bradford LV, Josh Smoker LV (38)
  • Starts – Gabriel Ynoa LV (18)
  • Innings – Gabriel Ynoa (109.2)
  • Holds – Josh Smoker LV (9)

* stats are updated through July 13, 2016

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net