The left side of the bullpen is unlikely to be resolved in 2015
As the Mets enter the home stretch of the season, one area of the club which has been in flux since the middle of March remains unresolved.
What’s worse, should the Mets seal the division, the Mets will go into the playoffs with it unfixed.
Yes, that’s the club’s inability to find a solid left-handed reliever who can get left-handed hitters out.
From Sean Gilmartin to Alex Torres, to Eric O’Flaherty to Dario Alvarez. Nobody has stood out, remained healthy, or both to become Terry Collins go-to guy to get left-handed hitters out late in a game.
The Mets latest and probably last hope to fill the void in Alvarez was lost for a significant amount of time with a strained groin on Wednesday night.
The Mets could conceivably move Steven Matz to the bullpen next month, but the Mets seem inclined to have him in the rotation instead, which makes the most sense considering his injury history and complete lack of experience pitching in the bullpen. And, Sandy Alderson has been clear from the beginning Matz is and will be a starting pitcher.
There is a small chance Jerry Blevins could be back sometime in October. But it’s unlikely at best and he most certainly would have to go to Port St. Lucie, start a throwing program, and find innings somewhere to even be considered for activation.
And of course, the Mets have to get to that point in October when he even might be ready.
Since a player added from outside the organization after September 1 cannot be eligible for postseason play, it would make little sense to make a trade for a two week rental.
In theory, the Mets could dive into the their minor league pitching depth and take a look at Scott Rice, who does have big league experience and had an excellent year at Triple-A Las Vegas, holding left-handed hitters to a .224 average with only three extra-base hits and 23 strikeouts in 84 plate appearances.
But real estate on the 40-man roster is at a premium right now, and will only become more precious following the World Series when everyone on the 60-day disabled list must be activated and either restored to the 25-man roster or optioned back to the minor leagues.
As such, barring another injury, the Mets say they do not intend to add anyone from the minor leagues, and instead will depend on who they have at the big league level now to get those big left-handed bats out.
It’s a gamble, especially come playoff time when the Mets are faced with such a scenario, like Adrian Gonzalez coming up in the seventh or eighth innings as the tying or go-ahead run.
But the Mets will depend on the likes of Tyler Clippard and Hansel Robles – two right-handed relievers who have been successful against left-handed hitters in 2015 – to get those big outs against lefties late in a playoff game.
Will that gamble pay off? That remains to be seen.