Erik Goeddel, a 25-year-old UCLA product, was not the pitching prospect that most Mets fans were hoping would get promoted when rosters were expanded on September 1, but he's the guy they got. So how can Goeddel help out the 2014 Mets down the stretch?
After posting a 4.37 ERA and nearly four walks per nine innings as a starter at Binghamton in 2013, the Mets figured they would move Goeddel to the bullpen to give his stats a boost and get him ready for big league relief duty. Unfortunately that did not go according to plan with the right-hander working out of the pen with Las Vegas this season.
Sure, the 51s play in a scary environment for pitching, but it's still not a good sign that Goeddel saw his ERA rise a full run from 2013 to 2014. A higher BABIP is to be expected with the dry infield in Vegas, but Goeddel also bumped his walk rate up above four per nine while only boosting his strikeout rate by 0.2 percent. Overall, he struck out 64 batters and walked 30 in 63.2 innings of relief.
Those numbers don't seem to make Goeddel worthy of a promotion, but one thing he does well is keep the ball in the park. As a starter in 2013, Goeddel allowed just 14 home runs in 134 innings. As a reliever this season, he let up just six in about half as many innings. While Vegas may have made it tough for Goeddel to improve his strikeout, walk, and runs allowed figures, he overcame the elements when it came to home run rate.
This one special skill gives Goeddel purpose with the 2014 Mets. He can come in and pitch an inning in a one-run game where the Mets would be doomed by a solo home run. He can also be placed in the middle of jams where a ground ball can help the Mets get out of trouble. That's what happened in his major league debut on Monday.
With runners on second and third and two runs already scored off of Jeurys Familia, Goeddel entered the game with Giancarlo Stanton at the plate. It would have been fun to see the rookie pitch against an MVP candidate in his debut, but boring, old Terry Collins instructed Goeddel to walk Stanton. He then walked Casey McGehee by accident to force in a run before getting the left-handed Garrett Jones to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The short outing was a good example of Goeddel's strengths and weaknesses. He has the stuff to be able to get a key ground ball or to strike out an opponent in a key situation, but he might also lose control and dig you a deeper hole. Can Goeddel overcome his walk issues and become a productive member of the Mets' bullpen? We'll find out more this month.