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Kyle Dowdy’s newly found velocity could get him on Opening Day roster

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The unproven Rule 5 selection will try to provide as a spot starter and bullpen arm

MLB: New York Mets-Media Day Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets haven’t broken came with a Rule 5 draft pick in five years. Sean Gilmartin was the last Met to make the big league club out of Spring Training in 2014. Yet, Kyle Dowdy, whom New York selected with the tenth pick in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, has a legitimate chance to begin the season in the majors for the first time in his career.

Dowdy, a right handed pitcher acquired from the Cleveland Indians, can be plugged into two roles, as he has experience as both a starter and reliever in his minor league career. Although he only stands at 6’1, weighing 195 pounds , the 26-year-old has recently found a way to pack a punch to batters.

Last season, despite having a fastball that normally sits at 93-94 mph, Dowdy was able to touch 98 mph consistently. Dowdy cannot pinpoint why his velocity skyrocketed out of nowhere, but the increase in speed has allowed him to attack hitters more often.

While experimenting with his new fastball, Dowdy pitched in-between Double-A and Triple-A with the Tigers and Indians organizations. He threw in 124 innings, making 30 appearances with 20 of them being starts. Dowdy accounted for a 5.15 ERA while pitching to a 1.48 WHIP. Control seemed to be an issue for the University of Houston alum, as he had a ratio of 2.4:1 of strikeouts to walks.

Even though Dowdy had a high ERA, he performed better than that statistic may suggest. On each of the three teams he played for across Double-A and Triple-A, Dowdy’s FIP was well below his ERA. His most impressive performance was in Triple-A with Detroit. In his 11 games, Dowdy’s 4.47 ERA turned into a 3.52 FIP, ranking 44th for pitchers with at least 50 IP in the International League.

As a Rule 5 selection, Dowdy will have to be on the Mets Opening Day roster or he will be returned to the Indians. His struggles in the minors could turn into success at the highest level if he continues to develop his fastball along with the rest of his pitches.

Of his four pitches, Dowdy’s most established is his cutter. His cutter allows him to tie up right handed batters, which should aid him as he continues to go after hitters. Dowdy also tosses a curveball and changeup, which hover around 77-78 mph and 85 mph, respectively.

General manager Brodie Van Wagenen believes that Dowdy will continue to improve his talents. Dowdy’s versatility excites Van Wagenen, as being a dual threat will give the Mets insurance.

“We’re looking for depth in our starting rotation,” Van Wagenen said. “We believe he can give us that depth. And he gives us some protection as we go into the season that if we need him to start, he has the talent ability to do that. So we’re looking forward to seeing what he has. And if our rotation stays healthy and intact, then we certainly believe he can be a force for us in the bullpen as well.”

Dowdy will have to perform well in Spring Training to secure a spot on the 25 man roster. There are multiple arms competing for the last few spots in New York’s bullpen, but Dowdy being a Rule 5 pick will perhaps give him the edge, as the organization may give him some time to showcase his abilities, otherwise he would be traded away from the roster.