Heading into the 2021 season, there’s no doubt that Aaron Loup is the top left-handed reliever on the Mets’ depth chart. If the team goes with more than one lefty in its Opening Day bullpen, though, there are several options in camp, and Tom Windle is one of them.
Drafted by the Dodgers in the second round in 2013, Windle started his professional career as a starting pitcher. After posting a 2.68 ERA in 53.2 innings in Single-A that year, he had a 4.26 ERA in 139.1 innings at High-A in 2014. Following that season, the Dodgers sent Windle and fellow pitcher Zach Eflin to the Phillies in exchange for former Mets nemesis Jimmy Rollins.
The Phillies used Windle as a starter in Double-A to begin the 2015 season, but he struggled. In 14 starts totaling 70.2 innings, he had a 5.35 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 40 walks. At that point, Windle was moved to the bullpen, and in 26.2 innings through the rest of the season, he had a 1.69 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Ever since then, Windle has pitched exclusively in relief, but he hasn’t matched that level of performance. Windle had a 4.68 ERA in 2016, struggling mightily in his time in Double-A and faring a bit better in the part of that season that he spent in High-A. In 2017, he spent the whole season in Double-A and finished with a 4.24 ERA, earning him a full season at Triple-A in 2018, where he had a 4.17 ERA.
In 2019, Windle made 42 appearances in Triple-A with a 4.26 ERA in 50.2 innings. While had had a high walk rate in most of his previous years in the minors, he walked 32 batters in 50.2 innings, a rate of 5.7 per nine. And in August, the Phillies released him. The Red Sox picked him up but got him just two appearances in Low-A to finish that season.
The Mets signed Windle to a minor league deal in December. They’ve also brought in left-handed pitchers Joey Lucchesi, Mike Montgomery, Stephen Tarpley, and Jerry Blevins, and they still have Thomas Szapucki and Daniel Zamora, too. A couple of those pitchers figure to work as starters, but if the Mets decide to roll with a second lefty in the bullpen, Windle has plenty of competition.
Given his track record, it would be surprising if Windle made the Opening Day roster. The Mets’ bullpen has a lot of question marks right now, and if Windle were to begin the year in Syracuse and pitch reasonably well, he might get an opportunity to pitch in the major league bullpen at some point this season.