How will the bullpen be constructed on Opening Day?

Michael Baron, Contributor

The Mets signed relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde to minor league contracts earlier this month. The two veteran pitchers come with question marks, though both have a lot of upside and the kind of experience the team had been searching for to anchor their young bullpen.

Bobby Parnell 9 (Baron)

Historically, the Mets have preferred to send healthy veterans north on Opening Day. Not only do they seem to have more confidence in veterans, but there tends to be more roster flexibility with the younger arms, which allows the team to easily send them back to Triple-A. But, it’s hard to envision both Farnsworth and Valverde making the club for Opening Day, especially considering they want to give opportunities to some of the younger relievers in camp.

In the case of Valverde, I expect he has a steeper hill to climb than Farnsworth, considering how much he’s struggled in recent seasons. It could depend on how many relievers they decide to take north on Opening Day, but I expect at least one of them to join Parnell, Scott Rice and Carlos Torres on the roster come March 31.

The rest of the bullpen, however, remains in question. Most other spots are open, and there are a lot of options to choose from…

The Mets need a second lefty in the bullpen right out of the gate. Too often in recent years, the Mets have gone north with only one left-handed reliever, and they have been burned badly by those decisions. Josh Edgin is the obvious choice in camp, but he struggled last year and his stuff appeared to diminished from 2012. The Mets have invited Jack Leathersich to big league camp, and while he isn’t on the 40-man roster, he could make a case for the job if he shows improved command over the course of spring training. They could also sign someone during camp to solve the problem entirely.

Vic Black 2 (Baron)On the right side of the bullpen, I would expect Vic Black has a very good chance to make the club. He showed he’s big league ready late last year with a hard fastball and a heavy curve, something which could play well in a late-inning setup role. Jeurys Familia should also receive strong consideration, but has to show better command of his stuff during camp. They could turn to Gonzalez Germen, Ryan Reid or Joel Carreno instead of Familia, although only Germen and Reid are on the 40-man roster and none of the three have particularly strong track records in the big leagues.

Alternatively, the Mets could consider righties Jeff Walters or Rafael Montero for a bullpen spot. Walters had an outstanding season as Double-A Binghamton’s closer in 2013, and many in the organization consider Montero ready right now. However, Montero isn’t on the 40-man roster yet and I have to believe the preference is to send both to Triple-A to avoid being “Super Two” eligible in 2016.

The Mets can afford to carry an extra reliever on Opening Day. They won’t need a fifth starter until April 14 in Arizona, meaning the competition for the final bullpen spot could last until that time, but, no matter what, there’s going to be inexperience going north in some variation.

The good news is that unlike in prior seasons, the Mets appear to have different intriguing options to turn to at any given point, which could quickly mitigate any injury or under-performance.




37 comments
Dana Smith
Dana Smith

It shouldnt matter too much in the long run, because if Colon, Niese, Wheeler and Gee are all healthy, then Syndergard will eventually become the 5th starter, ignoring possible trades of Gee or Niese this summer. Mejia, Lannan, Matsuzaka, Montero and deGrom are all depth and insurance in case of injury, and in the case of Montero, trade bait for a nice hitting prospect.

xplr
xplr

My prediction is that Dice K becomes the 5th starter. The bullpen will be stocked with youngsters. Let's see what they can do. 

Mickey Jennifer Wind
Mickey Jennifer Wind

The BP, they will carry 7 relievers.  They have enough versatility with position players to carry the extra reliever.  With current personnel, this will start:


Starting: Niese, Colon, Wheeler, Gee, Mejia

BP: Rice, Edgin, German, Torres, Parnell, Black, Farnsworth


Eventually Montero will replace Rice, Edgin may get hurt and get replaced by Leatherstitch or Lannon.  Syndergaard will be a late year call up to take over a starting spot that opens due to injury or trade.  I would not be surprised if he ends up in the pen this year to conserve innings (like Waca did) and replaces Farnsworth.

Zach14
Zach14

Whatever happens, it must include Gonzalez Germen. He was pretty solid last season.

yankeehater
yankeehater

These guys have a LOT of upside?? What is this, 2007? They are both guys who have been around for quite a while and are both old and past their prime. This is why both signed minor league contracts.

nthmetsfan
nthmetsfan

I'd rather see the younger guys make it and get some experience this year.

eric88
eric88

72.5? I'll take the under.

Jim Alderson
Jim Alderson

Vegas performance makes it very hard to judge the youngsters.  I know Leathersich got roughed up but I think outside of Vegas, he would dominate like he did in Bingo. 

My predictions: Parnell, Black, Edgin, Rice, Torres, Leathersich and Farnsworth.  Valverde released, Familia and Germen to Vegas. 

Rice's arm will show it hasn't recovered from overuse of last year and will be replaced in May by Lannan, who will be underwhelming and give way to Kolarek in August. 

Farnsworth will be a poor replacement for Hawkins, wear out his welcome by July and give way to Walters.

JamesWS
JamesWS

Ryan Reid is our best reliever not named Parnell. What do you mean he doesn't have a good track record? Look at his stats!

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

Saw the other day that Vegas has the over/under on Mets wins at 72.5...... that's not good.  Like most things Mets, the bullpen as currently constituted is a massive question mark, a seemingly endless supply of meh.   Who knows, maybe they'll get lucky.  Vegas thinks this team is going to be a big, loud barking dog.  The best I've found is a 40/1 chance they'll win it all, worst has them at 80/1.  In that case only MInnesota and Houston have a worse chance.  The boys on the strip certainly aren't drinking any of Sandy's Koolaid.  They've been wrong before, we'll see what happens. 

Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson

Pre-Spring Training Predicition: (not in role specific order)

Niese

Colon

Wheeler

Gee

Mejia


Parnell

Black

Rice

Edgin

Torres

Familia

mets2891
mets2891

Random question, does anyone know when the Mets AAA contract with Las Vegas is up?

Jeff Steinberg
Jeff Steinberg

It'll likely be Parnell, Edgin, Black, Farnsworth, Valverde, Rice, and Familia. Outside chances will be Torres, Germen, Reid, Leathersich, and Walters who will all likely be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas and be call ups throughout the season. 

Brooks
Brooks

Josh Edgin was filthy for two months before he went down with the rib. He gave up two runs in 19 innings when he got called back up. Not really sure how you can say he struggled last year. I mean, yeah he struggled in April. but he seemed to have figured it out, hence his 1.09 WHIP after getting recalled.

fhc1224
fhc1224

Stop trying to put Montero in the bullpen.  He is a starting pitcher.  Alderson, Collins, DePodesta, and every other offical Met have never said anything about moving him to the bullpen.  The only people that say it are the "expert" media, & blog writers like Baron.  All of these so called experts always say this prospect is destined for the bullpen where his "stuff" will play up.  They forget that the pitchers "stuff" has gotten him this far as a starter and that the value of even a league average back of the rotation guy is much higher then a bullpen arm, including closers.  Let them continue starting until it is proven they can't do it.  Stop being in such a rush to convert our best pitching prospects into 60 inning a year dime a dozen contributers.

Connie Nerrie
Connie Nerrie

"intriguing options" Yes.  If the veterans don't seem to have it in spring training, the young guys, some of whom seem capable, will be happy to step in. I don't have anything specific to point to, but it seems a bit less ragtag than in recent years.

amazagain
amazagain

Pen always seems to be such a wild card for Mets. Their vet additions in recent years havent worked at all. I'd prefer to see some of their young power arms - Familia, Black, Leatherstich v retreads

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

@Dana Smith  Montero projects at best to be a 3 type starter so you're not going to have teams knocking down your door to give you that "nice hitting prospect" for him

Jon Forsyth
Jon Forsyth

@eric88  You can't use the 100 mil payroll excuse because teams do more with less. Yes i know this is a NY team and the payroll could (and should in all honestly) be higher but this is what they have to work with for now. 

vimets
vimets

To many lefties in that group.

Gland1
Gland1

@JamesWS  You mean in all 11 innings he's pitched on the big league level?

Eric Koeller
Eric Koeller

@mets2891  few years...but the prospects of leaving soon dont look promising as all local triple A teams have long term partners

Mickey Jennifer Wind
Mickey Jennifer Wind

@fhc1224  He is going to the bull pen, because the Mets disagree with you.  Pretty much down to the man it sounds like.  I would take this bet, not because i think it is right, but because every thing i hear them say points this way.  

mets2891
mets2891

@fhc1224 Somebody has to be in the bullpen, there are only so many starting spots.

tommets
tommets

@amazagain  Agreed. Rauch was somewhat ok and Latroy was the only success.

Scott Ross
Scott Ross

@amazagain  Latroy Hawkins  ????? 

I also want to see the younger arms, and that is essentially what 2014 will be about.

Jim Alderson
Jim Alderson

@vimets They need to use Leathersich like a righty cuz of his reverse splits, so functionally, there are only two lefties.

JamesWS
JamesWS

In AAA he had a sub 3 ERA and in AA he had a sub 4 ERA two years ago. After dealing with some injuries/ failing as a starter early on he has developed as a legit reliever. He's only had trouble getting to the big leagues because he was stuck in Tampa and Pittsburgh who already have great bullpens.

Eric Koeller
Eric Koeller

@eric88  i hope not. I don't see any reason at all to have it be Dice-K over Mejia. Mejia is younger, more upside, and has a future with the mets. Its not like Mejia doesn't have major league experience and people are questioning if he's ready. 

Gland1
Gland1

That's not a track record of success, that's just potential. Im not saying he can't be good but lets not act like he's done anything yet.

Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson

@Eric Koeller @eric88  I think Mejia, provided that he is fully healthy, is simply a better pitcher than Dice-K. His stuff is infinitely better and his command appeared to be refined when we saw him last year.