Coming into the 2015 season, the Mets were praised for their unprecedented depth in their starting rotation and bullpen. Two Tommy John surgeries later, that depth doesn’t seem quite as substantial anymore. One of those two pitchers was left-handed reliever Josh Edgin. Who could take over as the team's left-handed one-out guy?
Sandy Alderson had placed a tremendous amount of faith in Edgin and avoided bringing in any reputable left-handed relief pitchers this offseason. The only additions—Scott Rice and Rule 5 acquisition Sean Gilmartin—were subtle. With Edgin out for the season, the race is clearly up in the air. One internal option that could potentially fill the role is relief pitching prospect Dario Alvarez.
Hailing from the Dominican Republic, the 26-year-old Alvarez saw his first major league action in 2014 after a lengthy path through the minor league system. Alvarez was originally signed by the Phillies during his teenage years and spent three summers pitching in the Dominican Summer League as a starter. As his career moved forward, Alvarez gradually improved, posting a 2.59 ERA in 13 starts in 2009. After being released by the Phillies, however, Alvarez fell off the grid for almost four years.
It wasn’t until 2013 that he resurfaced, as he pitched for the short-season Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones in his age-24 season. Once again serving as a starter, he had a solid 3.10 ERA in 58 innings over 12 starts, opening some eyes in the Mets organization. He then opened the 2014 season with the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats, where he produced a phenomenal stat line. Serving primarily as a reliever and a spot starter, Alvarez posted an impressive 1.32 ERA over 61.1 innings pitched. His stellar performance in Savannah garnered him brief promotions to advanced Single-A Port St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, where he did not allow a run at either level, in limited action.
An unlikely second-chance story, Alvarez reached the major leagues in 2014 as a September call-up with the Mets. He made four appearances for the Amazins, surrendering two runs in one-and-one-third innings. Alvarez boasts a fastball in the low-90s and complements it with a dancing slider that draws a good amount of swings-and-misses. While his stuff may not be overwhelming, it is certainly adequate to get major league hitters out.
Josh Edgin’s injury has opened up this race for a lefty reliever spot, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Alvarez will get the job. All of the pitchers in Mets camp competing for that job are performing poorly. When it is all said and done, the choice could come down to Alvarez and Gilmartin. Despite posting a similar stat line as has Alvarez this spring, Gilmartin would have to be offered back to the Twins if cut from the Mets' roster, as per the regulations of the Rule 5 draft. Since the Mets can send Alvarez back to the minors without repercussions, he has a bit of work to do to prove his worth. Over the last couple of weeks of spring training, Alvarez has the chance to demonstrate his value and get his big league career rolling as a lefty specialist.