In an effort to make sense of the Mets’ bullpen options heading into 2014, I’ve assembled what should be a fairly comprehensive list of the relief pitchers who have at least a reasonable chance to start the season on the Mets’ 25-man roster in 2014. The pitchers are sorted into four categories: "Locks" (players guaranteed to make the team), "In the Mix" (players who still need to prove their value to the team), "New Guys" (recent acquisitions), and "Long Shots & Depth" (younger farmhands who might not be ready to make the team). Each pitcher is listed with his age on Opening Day 2014.
Today we’ll look at those pitchers who are definitely in the mix to be in the Mets’ bullpen on Opening Day.
Here's the rest of the series:
Gonzalez Germen, RHP, Age 26
After spending most of his minor league tenure as a starting pitcher, Germen was a reliever in 2013 and his performance was intriguing to say the least. While his command is not quite there yet, his three-pitch mix of a fastball, slider, and changeup is quite impressive and may give Terry Collins another pitcher who can face both left- and right-handed batters out of the bullpen. Given that his changeup has shown flashes of dominance, Germen could really excel as a relief putcher if he can fine-tune his command.
Jeurys Familia, RHP, Age 24
Familia, like Vic Black, has no shortage of arm strength. Possessing a four-seam and two-seam fastball that can touch the upper–90s, Familia seems destined for big league success. To the contrary, he hasn’t looked anything like major league ready in either of his brief appearances with the Mets. Control has posed the greatest challenge, but winter scouting reports suggest Familia has managed to improve in that regard. His talent and velocity mean he’ll be given every chance to succeed, but if those raw tools don’t manifest themselves in on-field results, Familia might become 40-man-roster fodder before too long.
Jeff Walters, RHP, Age 26
After breaking the Binghamton saves record this past season and locking up a 40-man-roster spot, Walters is definitely on the cusp of the big leagues. He is expected to assume the closer role for Triple-A Las Vegas this season, but an impressive performance in big league camp this spring could punch his ticket to Opening Day with the Mets. Scouting reports indicate that Walters has established a major-league-quality mid–90s fastball and a very good slider to go along with it. Ideally, the Mets will add a couple bullpen arms via the trade or free agent markets, allowing Walters to start the season in Triple-A. In any event, we should expect to see Walters in a Mets jersey sometime in 2014.
Scott Rice, LHP, Age 32
You might be surprised to see Rice’s name appear in this section instead of among the other bullpen locks, but other than having a low arm slot, which is death on left-handed batters and generates ground balls in bunches, Rice is almost entirely bereft of pitching skills. Physically, Rice rarely touches 90 MPH with his fastball and does not have the greatest command. His value is in the downward action generated from his sinker and slider when they are working properly. With a little luck, Rice could build on his success as a LOOGY in 2013 and manage to round out the rough edges in his game.
Josh Edgin, LHP, Age 27
Brandishing a low-to-mid–90s heater from the left side is nice, but Edgin has lacked the command and bite on his breaking ball to have much big league success. He was considered a versatile relief pitcher until a recent bout of futility against right-handed hitters sunk his stock. Hopefully with another offseason in the books, Edgin can take a step forward and become a more complete reliever.