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 some of the long shots and depth guys who could round out the Opening Day bullpen.
Here's the rest of the series:
Cory Mazzoni, RHP, Age 24
Drafted in the second round out of NC State two-and-a-half years ago, Mazzoni finally put up numbers to match his stuff in Double-A Binghamton in 2013. He has always been a starter, but with a small frame and injury concerns, his future is probably in the bullpen. He mixes a mid–90s fastball with a curveball and a nasty splitter. With a strong repertoire, Mazzoni has all the tools to become a high-leverage relief pitcher in the near future.
Erik Goeddel, RHP, Age 25
Goeddel, like Mazzoni, has been a starter throughout his minor league tenure. Unlike Mazzoni, he has no chance of sticking in the rotation. Goeddel’s slender frame and severe injury issues have put a damper on his previously high ceiling. If he can reach some level of consistency, he might rediscover his former dominant streak in a new role. If not, he is probably just another marginal relief pitcher.
Jake deGrom, RHP, Age 26
The fact that deGrom is a long shot to make the bullpen has more to do with his talent than anything else. He should fully expect an extended look as a member of the Triple-A starting rotation before joining the Mets as a starter or reliever. While there is a chance he may still become an effective starter, his mid–90s fastballs, a bowling ball of a sinker, and a developing curveball could help him become successful out of the bullpen.
Chasen Bradford, RHP, Age 24
The former 35th-round pick had a breakout year of sorts, making it to Double-A and pitching in the Arizona Fall League. While the Mets have invited Bradford to participate in spring training as a non-roster invitee, it's hard to see how he would add value to the Mets. After being drafted, our own Alex Nelson called Bradford "very light on stuff," and he will probably spend 2014 in Triple-A.
John Church, RHP, Age 27
Another non-roster invitee from the Mets' farm system, Church is not much more than an organizational pitcher and a 25th man on a roster. That said, he has supposedly seen a slight uptick in fastball velocity. Like Bradford, he should not be anything more than Triple-A bullpen fodder.
Jack Leathersich, LHP, Age 23
Though Leather Rocket has had flashes of pure dominance throughout his minor league tenure, he will have to develop command of his fastball before taking the next step. A potential high-leverage reliever, Leathersich has a deceptive delivery and a decent mix of pitches. His fastball ranges from 92 to 94 miles per hour and occasionally hits the mid–90s, which is a significant plus for a left-handed reliever. Anyone who has not read Jack’s interview with Fangraphs’ David Laurila should do so immediately.
Adam Kolarek, LHP, Age 25
Though Kolarek is lacks Triple-A experience, he still has an outside chance of beating Scott Rice and Josh Edgin for the LOOGY spot on the Mets' 2014 roster. A non-roster invitee, Kolarek has always dominated same-handed batters, but he has run into trouble against opposite-handed hitters as he’s moved up the organizational ladder.
Darin Gorski, LHP, Age 26
The problem for Gorski is twofold: First, he has never had success above the Double-A level. Second, he does not have the breaking ball to profile as a LOOGY. Despite that, he has the potential to be a long reliever and mop-up guy. Throwing high–80s, his fastball will never be what gets him to the majors, but his command and changeup might.