With the addition of lefty specialist Eric O’Flaherty from the Oakland A’s, the New York Mets are arming for the 2015 playoffs.
By Ernie DeFalco
With the recent acquisition of left-handed relief pitcher Eric O’Flaherty from the Oakland A’s, and the subsequent DFA of the ineffective Alex Torres (along with his hat inspired by the Great Gazoo), the New York Mets are arming up for the playoffs.
For much of the season the Mets bullpen has been good. Not great, but pretty solid. The back-end has been solid from the start with Jeurys Familia among the league leaders in saves this season with 28. While showing some signs of tailing off since the break, Familia’s stuff and found control should make him an effective closer the rest of the way. Paired up with the near trade deadline acquisition of Tyler Clippard in the eighth, the Mets back end is quite formidable.
Jerry Blevins was brought in to be one but broke his arm early in April and what has become a medical mystery of the longest healing arm ever he has still yet to return. Alex Torres was forced into the role, but his career numbers indicated that he was more accomplished against right handed hitters. That trend continued this season as left-handed batters hit .268 against him and he carried a WHIP of almost 2.
Jack Leathersich did not fare much better as lefties were hitting .280 against him and now is on the DL awaiting surgery. Sean Gilmartin, the only one of the group currently on the roster, also struggled against lefties with a .261 batting average against. Those sort of reverse splits can be useful in Strat-O-Matic baseball but not so much for a team who desperately needed a left handed specialist.
Eric O’Flaherty is that specialist. Ignore his current ERA or 5+. O’Flaherty is a proven veteran who handles lefties effectively. Coming into today left-handers are hitting .186 against him. He is a guy who has been in pennant races before and has had a very small amount of playoff exposure.
Adding O’Flaherty was a much larger move than it appears. O’Flaherty and Blevins, who has resumed throwing, will be counted on the rest of the way in a big way. The teams the Mets will be facing are loaded with left handed hitters: the Nationals with Bryce Harper; the Cardinals with Jason Heyward and Matt Carpenter; the Dodgers with Adrian Gonzalez; and of course the Cubs with Anthony Rizzo.
Once the playoffs arrive, O’Flaherty, Blevins and Jonathan Niese or Steven Matz will make up quite the left handed pen. Combined with Hansel Robles, Clippard and Familia from the right side, all of a sudden the balance that has been lacking has been found.
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