In 2013, Mets LOOGY Scott Rice was a feel-good story, not just for the Mets but for all of baseball. He was an Amazin' Avenue nominee for Best Rookie. But in 2014, he was a nominee for worst Mets reliever.
Based on his performance last season, it was expected that Rice would be the primary lefty out of the Mets' bullpen. This expectation quickly turned out not to be the case. Too add insult to injury, in late July, after a demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas, Rice underwent season-ending elbow surgery, that kept him out the rest of the year.
The good news for Rice in 2014 was that his strikeout rate increased from 7.2 per nine innings in 2013 to 8.6 per nine this year. The bad news was pretty much everything else.
Looking back, it is amazing that Rice appeared in 32 games. In those appearances, he managed to only pitch in 13.2 innings, a bad total even for a LOOGY. To make matters worse, he completely and utterly failed against left-handed batters, who hit 262/.392/.333 against him.
Did pitching in 73 games in 2013 contribute to Rice's disastrous 2014 season? Recent Mets LOOGY history says yes. Both Tim Byrdak and Pedro Feliciano missed one to two seasons with numerous arm or shoulder injuries the season after they appeared in a ton of games for the Mets.
Desired 2014 role: He inks a minor league deal with the Mets so he can continue to rehab and makes a comeback after the All-Star break.
Expected 2014 role: Replacing Kevin Burkhardt?