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Getting to know new Mets pitcher Alex Torres

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The Mets gave up Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later for the 27-year-old pitcher.

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In one of their two trades yesterday, the Mets acquired left-handed relief pitcher Alex Torres for Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later. Perhaps known best for wearing a big protective hat, who is this guy?

Born in Venezuela in 1987, Torres was signed by the Angels in 2005. Late in the 2009 season, he was dealt to the Rays as a piece in the trade that sent former Mets farmhand Scott Kazmir to Anaheim. He made four appearances for the Rays in 2011 and 39 in 2013 before he was traded—along with Matt Harvey’s high school teammate Jesse Hahn—to the Padres for a package that included Brad Boxberger.

In his time in the minors with the Angels and Rays, Torres, who is listed at 5’ 10" and 175 pounds on Baseball-Reference, pitched almost exclusively as a starter, and in most of those years, his ERA was pretty good. His strikeout rates ranged from good to great, but walks were always a problem, as he never had a season in which he walked fewer than four opposing hitters per nine innings. All of his major league appearances have come in relief.

According to Brooks Baseball, Torres has thrown a four-seam fastball, sinker, change, slider, and curve in big league career. He has most heavily relied on the four-seam fastball, which has averaged a 93.4 miles per hour and he throws 53 percent of the time, and the changeup, which has averaged 85.3 miles per hour and he throws 32 percent of the time.

By whiff percentages at Brooks, the change has by far been Torres’s most dangerous pitch. When he throws it, opposing hitters have missed 22.7 percent of the time. That’s good. And while changeups are not typically out pitches against same-handed hitters, Torres was able to get swings-and-misses from lefties with it, especially last year. But he has used the pitch more often against righties and gotten very good results with it against them.

Thus far in his major league career, Torres has virtually no platoon split when judging by FIP, which judges a pitcher’s performance by strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed only. Against righties, Torres has a 3.07 FIP, and against lefties, he has a 3.03 FIP.

vs L 26.5 % 13.9 % 0.18 3.03 .212 .335 .270
vs R 22.3 % 10.3 % 0.26 3.07 .184 .281 .259

Walks are clearly Torres’s biggest weakness, and he’s struggle with them more against left-handed hitters. His overall walk rate increased significantly last year with the Padres, and his season stats—3.33 ERA, 3.72 FIP—suffered because of it. With Tampa in 2013, he had a 1.71 ERA and 2.32 FIP. Relievers are often volatile from year to year, but something in between his past two seasons would make him a pretty good pitcher for the Mets.