The New York Mets have only one position battle: the back-end of the bullpen.
By Justin Weiss
Unlike in previous years when the New York Mets have struggled to round out their bullpen with Major League relievers, Terry Collins‘ squad has plenty of depth heading into the 2016 season.
The final two spots are likely up-for-grabs.
While Erik Goedell and Sean Gilmartin appear to be the current frontrunners, Rafael Montero, Stolmy Pimentel, Logan Verret and Jim Henderson could all potentially solidify the backend of the team’s relief corps.
In April 2015, Kurtis Hardy of Bleacher Report aptly described Jim Henderson as ‘The Forgotten Brewer.’
Henderson, now with the Mets, is looking for a chance for redemption after a tremendous 2013 campaign was vandalized by a scourge of shoulder injuries.[graphiq id=”jgamiycQZ7v” title=”Jim Henderson Career Pitching” width=”600″ height=”403″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/jgamiycQZ7v” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/7078/Jim-Henderson” link_text=”Jim Henderson Career Pitching | PointAfter”]
The 33-year-old had an excellent season in 2013, racking up a 2.70 ERA in 60.0 innings of work. He also posted 28 saves, and was presumed to be the closer in ’14 for The True Blue Brew Crew.
But a slew of injuries hampered Henderson’s 2014 campaign, as he was abruptly placed on the season-ending disabled list after a disappointing Spring Training and regular season.
Henderson looks to revitalize his career with the Mets. The problem is twofold: his average fastball velocity has decreased from 95.2 MPH in 2013 to 93.8 MPH in 2014, per Fangraphs, and Terry Collins has previously expressed his desire to stick with the guys who carried New York to the Fall Classic last season.
Still, Henderson’s story is an intriguing one, and if he can get his fastball back into the mid-90s, he could have a shot to make the team out of Spring Training.
The Mets hadn’t had much success in the Rule 5 Draft until 2014, when GM Sandy Alderson selected Sean Gilmartin in the first round.
“We like his athleticism, we like his makeup and we think he’s got a chance to pitch against righties and lefties,” Alderson said at the time.[graphiq id=”dLuMU2VOpJr” title=”Sean Gilmartin Career Pitching” width=”600″ height=”403″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/dLuMU2VOpJr” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/18531/Sean-Gilmartin” link_text=”Sean Gilmartin Career Pitching | PointAfter”]
And while Gilmartin, 25, repeatedly struggled in high-leverage situations, the Mets had to be content with what many have considered a surprisingly strong rookie campaign.
Gilmartin posted encouraging numbers in 2015. In 57.1 innings, he had a 2.67 ERA and 2.75 FIP. He struck out 8.48 per nine innings, and limited home runs to 0.31 per nine.
“It’s very much to their advantage,” manager Terry Collins said about pitchers who contributed to the Mets last season. “…We have seen what they’ve done under pressure in a pennant race. They’re going in as the lead candidates. There’s no question.”
Gilmartin had only one appearance in the World Series; but it was a garbage-time stint. Fans hope that he gets handed the ball more frequently in ’16, especially after the likes of Bobby Parnell and Carlos Torres got more playing-time last season.
While Logan Verrett is expected to start off the season in Triple-A Las Vegas, his role with the Mets is becoming increasingly unclear.
The threat of multiple lacerations to starting pitchers looms, while the need for an ace in Las Vegas is also imminent.
That being said, it’s likely that Verrett will be utilized as a spot starter/long reliever in 2016.
It’s been an interesting journey for the 25-year-old: New York selected him in the third round of the 2011 Amateur Draft, before being drafted by the Orioles from the Mets in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, before being selected off waivers by the Rangers, before ultimately being returning to the Mets before the ’15 season began.
Verrett was very serviceable last season, posting an ERA of just over three in nearly 40 innings of work. He began as a reliever, and tossed an eight inning gem against the Rockies in Colorado in the thick of the playoff hunt.
He has a lethal breaking pitch (slider and curveball) and average command. His two-seamer induces grounders, while he showed an exceptional swing/whiff rate in a couple of spot starts down-the-stretch.
With plenty of reasons to be optimistic, Verrett looks like a plausible option for the team’s bullpen.
The Mets done a solid job keeping their right-handed pitching prospects unheralded.[graphiq id=”jlunOU0wGix” title=”Erik Goeddel Career Pitching” width=”600″ height=”403″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/jlunOU0wGix” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/18587/Erik-Goeddel” link_text=”Erik Goeddel Career Pitching | PointAfter”]
Like Hansel Robles, Erik Goedell entered — and exited — the 2015 campaign as a fairly unknown prospect.
But after a strong season in relief, Goedell has made his case to join Sean Gilmartin in the ‘pen.
Goeddel, 27, profiles as a more traditional middle reliever. When he was healthy last season, the righthander produced strong results. He posted a 2.43 ERA in 35 appearances, though an elbow injury took away a large chunk of his season.
Said Goeddel, “Just knowing that you can do it gives you a lot of confidence.”
26-year-old Dominican was one of the Pirates’ top pitching prospects just a couple of seasons ago. Has four-seem fastball with late finish, and fringe-average command. Had a 3.97 ERA in eight relief appearances for the Texas Rangers in 2015.
29-year-old lefty specialist had tremendous 2014 campaign, but missed last season due to Tommy John surgery. “I just got hitters out,” Edgin said, recalling the ’14 season. “I was having a good run at it. … That was so long ago.” He’s expected to be ready one month into the season.
“It all comes down to, can you bounce back?” Collins said. “Some of those guys that have been starters for a while, are you going to be able to bounce back after an inning and pitch tomorrow, and if not could you pitch the next day or are you going to need two days? Because those guys are not real viable candidates.”