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Chasen Shreve is chasin’ a spot on the 2020 Mets

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The position of “lefty that isn’t Justin Wilson” is pretty wide open.

New York Mets Photo Day Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Here is a list of left handers currently in the 2020 Mets’ bullpen: Justin Wilson. That’s it.

The Mets didn’t have any kind of luck with bullpen lefties last year. The only non-Wilson left-hander still with the team is Daniel Zamora, who is most notable for, in order (as I wrote in my 2019 recap): “That’s Amore” jokes, inexplicably being brought in to face Bryce Harper and eventually taking the loss in the the September 1 game against the Phillies that effectively ended the 2019 season, and being a lefty without notable splits against left-handed batters.

Otherwise, the Mets were treated to a smattering of innings from Luis Avilan, Hector Santiago and Donnie Hart.

All of that is to say that the barrier of entry for non-roster invitee Chasen Shreve to make the initial 30-man roster to start the COVID-19 shortened season, should it happen, is rather low.

The 29-year-old Shreve will be primarily competing with Zamora and Kevin Smith for the second lefty bullpen spot, though Stephen Gonsalves and even David Peterson could potentially be in play as well (Peterson is less likely to appear as a reliever, but it going to be a weird season so who knows). As of now, Fangraph’s Roster Resource projects Zamora to take the spot.

Shreve has had an altogether fine career in the majors. After 15 games and a 0.73 ERA with the Braves in his rookie year in 2014, he was traded to the Yankees. From 2015 to 2017, his first three full seasons in the Bronx, he posted a 3.82 ERA over 136.2 innings with 155 strikeouts (10.2 K/9) and 71 walks (4.7 BB/9). After a midseason trade in 2018 to the Cardinals as part of the deal for Luke Voit, he posted a 3.82 ERA in 14.2 innings, with 16 strikeouts and 9 walks. After just three major league appearances in 2019, he elected free agency at the end of the season.

It may be a good thing the LOOGY is dead for Shreve, because he isn’t one. He actually has reverse splits: Left-handed batters, over his career, have a .778 OPS against him, compared to a .750 OPS for right-handed batters. He does strike out more lefties, a 2.62 SO/W rate compared to 2.11.

However, the path to making the team isn’t clear for Shreve. For one, among relievers with at least 200 innings pitched since 2014, his career 4.51 BB/9 is the ninth-highest. In that same group, his 1.64 home runs per nine is the takes the top spot, though part of that may be inflated by having to pitch at Yankee Stadium for the majority of his career.

His strikeouts per nine helps balance that a bit, at 10.34, but that’s only 39th in that group.

He wasn’t doing himself any favors in the abbreviated spring training either, getting thoroughly out-pitched by Zamora.

Shreve continued to be dogged by homers, giving up two over his six innings, plus two walks and a hit batter. He struck out five.

Zamora, meanwhile, looked much more like his 2018 self than his 2019 version, giving up just one run and walking just one, while striking out 8 across 5 innings.

But with an extra four roster spots on the roster to start the new 60-game season, there’s probably no reason for the Mets to not give Shreve a bit of an extended shot alongside Zamora, at the very least. The lower end of the Mets’ bullpen is honestly just bad, so any sort of wrinkle of a dart throw is worth it.