Michael Baron, ContributorScott Rice spent 14 years in the minor leagues before being promoted to the Mets for the first time this season, and he has already shown to be an effective weapon out of the bullpen.
Rice is 1-3 with a 3.38 ERA, having allowed seven runs and 14 hits in 18 2/3 innings and has finished four games for the Mets so far this season. He’s held left-handed hitters to a .154 average, has allowed only one extra-base hit in 43 plate appearances, and he has nearly a 65 percent ground ball rate.
However, he has already appeared in a league-leading 24 games and is on-pace for a franchise record 100 appearances, exceeding the mark set by Pedro Feliciano of 92 games in 2010.
If Rice continues to work this frequently, eventually his effectiveness will be reduced. I also worry about the impact this can have on Rice’s health. The Mets have had a history of their left-handed relievers eventually wearing down and succumbing to arm injuries – such as Feliciano and Tim Byrdak.
Terry Collins is going to have to find a way to rest Rice, although considering the ineffectiveness of Robert Carson, Terry is essentially playing with only one left-handed reliever on any given day once again.
So often people get on Collins for mishandling the bullpen, but he very often is forced to use the pen in ways which are unconventional due to ineffectiveness in the rotation, other arms in the bullpen, or a combination of the two. At some point, Collins has to simply ride the hot hand and hope other pitchers come around, for better or for worse. Hell, even Rice has been put in situations with a low probability of success for that very reason. That might sound like a rationale, but what is Terry supposed to do in this case? He’s in an unenviable position, but if the rotation can start to provide the length they have consistently as they have over the last few days, Terry can better manage the bullpen and better manage situations, and maybe start using guys like Carson in situations where they’re more probable to succeed.