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 all-but-certain to anchor the Mets' bullpen on Opening Day.
Bobby Parnell, RHP, Age 29
Parnell took complete control of the closer role last season, becoming one of the most reliable high-leverage relievers (HLR) in baseball. Further refining his command, Parnell had two weapons at his disposal: a high-90s fastball and a very formidable curve. At one point he started incorporating some type of a changeup into his repertoire and had some success with it. If healthy (his last appearance in 2013 was on July 30 before being sidelined with a neck injury), Parnell should continue his reign as one of the finest bullpen arms in the major leagues.
Carlos Torres, RHP, Age 31
Coming out of relative obscurity—or, as some people call it, Japan—Torres had a very fine season as a starter-reliever in 2013. Given his cutter and curveball, Torres has no problems facing left- or right-handed batters. The other valuable asset Torres wields is his versatility. His demonstrated ability to pitch in high-leverage situations, mop-up roles, and spot starts gives the bullpen much-needed depth. Torres does have a shaky track record, though, as his control issues have made him fairly hittable and homer prone. His performance in 2013 merits a bullpen spot in 2014, and it may be that he has turned a corner in his career. The good news is that even if he regresses somewhat from last year, he should remain a perfectly seriviceable reliever for the Mets.
Vic Black, RHP, Age 26
The less heralded of the two players acquired in the Marlon Byrd trade at the end of August, Black has an upper-90s fastball and a solid breaking ball, but he will need to improve command of his pitches if he is to really thrive in the big leagues. Young hard-throwers are always sought-after commodities, so Black will be given plenty of leeway to stick with the Mets.