Opinion: The second LH reliever, and what it means for the rotation

Michael Baron, Contributor

On Monday, the Mets optioned LHP Josh Edgin to minor league camp. Later in the day, Terry Collins told reporters LHP John Lannan will still work as a starting pitcher this spring, but he is also being considered as a second left-handed reliever for the bullpen.

LHP Scott Rice is on the 40-man roster and expected to make the Opening Day roster.

Lannan is open to pitching in relief, because his primary goal is to make the Opening Day roster (Rubin, Mar. 11).

“I’ll do anything to help the team,” he said.

The last couple of years, the Mets have been burned by not carrying a second quality left-handed reliever to start the season. That has often led to overusing Rice and Tim Byrdak. It has also reduced flexibility late in games, and has forced other relievers to pitch in situations that exposed their weaknesses.


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Lannan has never made a major league relief appearance. He’s held left-handed hitters to a .267 average in his seven-year career, which isn’t great. The Mets have some flexibility with him, since he cannot opt out of his minor league contract until June (Rubin, Jan. 30). That could allow the team extra time to work Lannan in relief at Triple-A to see how he’ll transition in to the role. Of course, this wouldn’t help the short-term, Opening Day roster situation.

At the same time, if Lannan is a reliever, the race for the last rotation spot will likely come down to Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia. Early in the offseason, it sounded as though the preference was to give Mejia the job if he was healthy at the end of camp. However, Terry Collins recently suggested his preference is for a veteran to win the spot, which could result in Mejia starting the year in the rotation at Triple-A. It doesn’t sound like the organization views Mejia as a reliever anymore, and that’s good news considering how much he’s been jerked around over the years.

The Mets should choose the best option for each role and not deliberately handicap themselves because they fear losing somebody on waivers. If players aren’t performing, they shouldn’t be on the roster.




19 comments
Adam Myers
Adam Myers

Not sure why Matsuzaka is even being considered. I'd like to see Montero get the 5th spot. If not him then Lannan.

Herb Goldstein
Herb Goldstein

Lannan is not the answer. He is no better against lefties than he is against righties. We don't need a second LHRP if he can't get left handed batters out. Not only do lefties have a ,267 avg against him, as pointed out in the article, but they have a ,755 OPS, which is identical to the OPS righties have against him. Worse yet, in the past 2 years lefties have outhit righties against him. Just last year, lefties slashed .323/.371/.462/.833 (admittedly in a small sample of 70 PAs) while righties slashed .288/.358/.434/.792. We need better than that in a second lefty.

Now would be a good time to give Tim Byrdak a call and an audition. He is a capable lefty if he is in condition, which I suspect he is. He is also a great person and a positive clubhouse influence, but those are beside the point. He has stated he would love to return to the Mets. We should give him a chance to prove he can still do it.

Greg Byrnes
Greg Byrnes

I want to see Lannan win the spot. Being that the Mets only have 1 lefty starter in the rotation. I think they need a second one. There are some big lefthanded hitters ( R. Howard, C. Utley, J Heyward etc...) in the division that the team will face hopefully this helps neutralize them to some degree

Kenneth Meltsner
Kenneth Meltsner

There is no mystery in Dice-K or Lannan. Both guys are underwhelming veterans who will be .500 pitchers at best. Give Mejia a shot. Really, what have they got to lose? All this talk of 'veteran leadership' is a lot of crap. Give a spot to the guys who EARN it.

Brian Webster
Brian Webster

Baron you should talk with Cerrone since he posts seemingly at least once a day on this blog that Mejia is going to be in the big league bullpen rather than starting in AAA. Hopefully you are right and he's wrong.

Krystian Alexander
Krystian Alexander

I'd much rather give the spot to Mejia...the dudes paid his dues and idk why Dice-K is even being considered?! Oh cause he threw 4 good starts....wow what a horrible job evaluating. We need to prep for 2015 and see who is in and who isn't! Clearly Mejia has got the stuff to be an excellent 5th pitcher in the rotation. I love the fact we are becoming a pitching stacked franchise. Our rotation for 2015 should be:

1. Matt

2. Noah

3. Zach

4. Montero

5. Mejia

DVincent81
DVincent81

Is Montero not even in the consideration to be the 5th SP at this point?

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

Baron - I think the last couple of years the team has been burned by not having guys that can get both righties and lefties out and by having WAY to many situational guys who end up being overused and expose the rest of the pen.

If the team had one or even two long long men and just one situational lefty the pen would be much better constructed.  Familia may be a guy that can go two innings a clip with ease...

Kevin Scott
Kevin Scott

"The Mets technically don’t need a fifth starter until April 14 against the Diamondbacks"


Great, another year of this??  This is just wrong, look at the schedule.  they play 5 consecutive games April 2 through April 6, meaning that a 5th starter would be needed no later than April 6.  It really isn't complicated and somehow becomes the basis for incorrect posts every spring. 

SomeHighSchoolKid
SomeHighSchoolKid

If Terry gives Dice-K the job over Mejia, you have to wonder if he has a serious problem evaluating talent.

mustang66
mustang66

it. 's bad enough the lineup has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, the brain trust and I use that term very lightly has no f****** clue. Mejia is a no brainer for the fifth spot. I feel he will be the best picture in the rotation. At the very least, its obvious he's better than our friend from the Far East. I think I will skip any game or should I say marathon that Dice K is involved in

completely
completely

"If players aren’t performing, they shouldn’t be on the roster."


This is the kind of blasphemy that invites a talking to from the paymasters, Mr. Baron.

Opti-Mets-tic
Opti-Mets-tic

@Krystian Alexander  Mejia has "paid his dues", so you're sold on him, and Dice-K threw "4 good starts", and this is a terrible job evaluating...


Do you realize that Dice-K did throw 4 good starts last year... and Mejia has 11 MLB starts TOTAL in his career? Some good, and some bad. So, maybe you should re-asses your evaluating.


Mejia is definitely exciting, but it's tough to say he's "paid his dues". He hasn't even proven he can stay healthy through a season. If anything, he's proven that he can't.

Gregor Kitzis
Gregor Kitzis

@BringBackDaveTelghe  Torres and Lannan, there's your two long men, one from each side. The rest of Collins' decisions seem to be being made for him. Guys are cutting themselves.

72tilltc
72tilltc

@samc  Really you have to wonder he picked Eamus Batista Ankiel Torres. 

Krystian Alexander
Krystian Alexander

@Opti-Mets-tic @Krystian Alexander  


You aren't being as optimistic as your name states.....your case is that Dice-K threw 4 good starts? Did you see how well Mejia threw? I'm talking about the future and I want to see what this kid has in him. Fact, he has had issues staying on the field, but right now he is healthy and we need to inspect our youth and not a guy who is on his last legs in the MLB.