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2016 Mets season preview: Erik Goeddel

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The 27-year-old needs to stay healthy.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Goeddel was very effective in 33.1 innings with the Mets in 2015. He had a 2.43 ERA and a 2.47 FIP. He struck out more than a batter per inning, and he did a good job limiting walks and home runs. His postseason performance was less than stellar, as he failed to retire any of the four batters he faced in the NLDS and was removed from the roster for the NLCS, but tjhat struggle doesn't cancel out his strong regular season performance.

Goeddel's HR/FB rate (3%) and BABIP (.267) are both in line for some regression, but his stuff is good enough for him to be an effective bullpen piece. The party piece is his splitter, which generated a 32% swinging strike rate in 2015. For reference, Masahiro Tanaka's famous splitter generated a 20% rate last season. Goeddel's can be an elite out pitch when he is on. His curve and fastball are both fairly average, but one excellent secondary pitch is enough for most relievers.

Injuries will always be the rub with Goeddel. A lat issue has sidelined him for a chunk of spring training, but it's his elbow that is the real ticking time bomb. Goeddel has already undergone three elbow surgeries, including Tommy John, and missed significant time in 2015 with elbow soreness. Splitters have a reputation for causing elbow problems, and Goeddel throws his nearly 22% of the time, a worrying strategy for his future health. Unfortunately, Goeddel might not be a major league pitcher without his splitter, so his best option might just be to keep throwing it and cross his fingers.

Thanks to his lat issue, a crowded bullpen picture, and the strong spring performance of Jim Henderson, Goeddel is likely ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas to start the season. If any reliever in the bullpen falters, Goeddel would probably be the first in line for a promotion, assuming the Mets would rather leave Logan Verrett in the minors to stay stretched out as a starter. If he's healthy—and that's a very big if—the Mets will have a right-handed weapon available in Goeddel.