New York Mets: 15 Bullpen Candidates Heading Into 2014 Spring Training
New York Mets' Bullpen Candidates Heading Into 2014 Spring Training
Heading into Spring Training, the New York Mets have a number of position battles that are ready to commence when camp gets underway. However, their entire bullpen will be one big position battle. When it comes to their starting rotation, just about everything except for the fifth starter spot is set in stone, but when it comes to their relievers, there’s almost nothing set in stone, meaning that much is to be decided.
The closest thing to a certainty in the Mets’ bullpen heading into Spring Training is that Bobby Parnell will be their closer. Of course, Parnell’s health is a real concern for the Mets after he missed the final two months of the 2013 season and underwent offseason surgery to fix a herniated disk in his neck. Although the Mets remained stagnant with regards to their bullpen for much of the offseason, they made a late push to sign veteran relievers with closing experience to help solidify their bullpen, which indicates that they’re still uncertain if Parnell will be healthy and able to perform at a high level when the season starts.
With some uncertainty regarding Parnell, the Mets essentially have seven spots in the bullpen and seven different roles that are unspoken for heading into Spring Training. Luckily for them, they have no shortage of bullpen candidates, including a slew of young prospects with no major league experience looking to carve out a role in the Mets’ bullpen this season. Here is a rundown of all the pitchers vying for a job in the Mets’ bullpen in 2014.
15. Cory Mazzoni
Mazzoni is a long shot after missing so much time in 2013 due to injury, so the Mets will probably want him to pitch in triple-A before moving to the big leagues. However, Mazzoni's future is in the bullpen and if he's one of the best seven relievers in camp, the Mets may not hesitate to put him on the Opening Day roster.
14. Erik Goeddel
Goeddel is probably a long shot to make the team out of Spring Training, but he's on the 40-man roster, so he'll be a legitimate candidate with a good camp. He'll likely be in the triple-A rotation to start the season with a chance to join the Mets most likely in the bullpen later in the season.
13. Joel Carreno
Carreno is on the outside looking in at the start of Spring Training, but he has as much, if not more, major league experience as a lot of the other young pitchers in Mets' camp. He's coming off a great winter season, so if he could carry that momentum into the spring, he has a legitimate chance to make the team.
12. Ryan Reid
The Mets took a flyer on Reid this winter as he's had a lot of minor league success but has little major league experience. At age 28, he'll have to be head and shoulders above the Mets' younger pitchers if he's going to grab one of the final spots in the Mets' bullpen.
11. Jack Leathersich
Leathersich is likely to end up in the Mets' bullpen at some point in 2014, but he had all kinds of control issues in triple-A last year, so he's going to have to show early in camp that his control isn't a problem if he's going to be a serious candidate to make the team out of camp.
10. Jeff Walters
Walters will be an interesting guy to watch in Spring Training because he was a dominant closer in double-A last year and he doesn't necessarily have a lot of developing left to do. Of the Mets' contingent of young pitchers that project as reliever in the long run, he may have the best chance to make the Opening Day roster as a part of the bullpen.
9. Scott Rice
Rice had an impressive second half in 2013, and that should give him a leg up to make the team out of Spring Training as the second lefty out of the bullpen. However, he had some control issues last year, and if Rice has those problems again this spring while youngster Jack Leathersich pitches well, he could face stiff competition to keep his job.
8. Gonzalez Germen
Germen would be wise to sign up for a lucrative frequent-flyer program, because he could log a lot of miles being shipped back and forth between New York and triple-A Las Vegas. He's a useful reliever, but he's not one of the power arms that's going to be vying for a spot as a late-inning setup man, which makes him a fringe part of the bullpen that may be in and out of the big leagues all season.
7. Kyle Farnsworth
Farnsworth was a good signing by the Mets, but he doesn't figure to be a prominent member of the Mets' bullpen. As a player on a minor league contract, he'll have to outshine several younger pitchers in order to lockdown a role in middle relief.
6. Josh Edgin
Edgin had an up and down 2013, but if he pitches up to his potential he should be the best lefty reliever the Mets have this season. The Mets have a few young lefty relievers in their farm system that are close to reaching the big leagues, so if Edgin struggles again, his job could be in jeopardy.
5. Jose Valverde
The signing of Valverde gives the Mets a reliever with a lot of experience as a closer, which is something that they needed heading into Spring Training. Being a veteran with late-game experience should give him a leg up with regards to making the team, but after the way last season ended for him, he does have to prove this spring that he has something left in the tank.
4. Jeurys Familia
The Mets didn't see a lot of Familia last year because of injuries, but he has hit-and-miss stuff and has the potential to be a dominant late-game reliever. Despite having little big league experience, Familia is expected to be one of the primary setup men in the Mets' bullpen. In addition to showing he's healthy, he has plenty to prove during Spring Training.
3. Vic Black
The Mets have high hopes for Black after a strong performance in the big leagues last September, and he looks like the favorite to be the eighth-inning setup man. He doesn't have a lot of major league experience and he does have a history of control problems, so he's far from a guarantee to pitch as well as the Mets want him to. If he struggles in the spring, it could create a big hole and a lot of uncertainty in the Mets' bullpen.
2. Carlos Torres
Torres was a useful pitcher for the Mets last season as he pitched well out of the bullpen while also starting games when the Mets needed an extra starter. He figures to be the long man in the Mets' bullpen this year, but he's good enough to slide into the seventh or eighth inning if other guys struggle. Outside of Bobby Parnell, he's perhaps the most reliable reliever the Mets have heading into Spring Training, and there's little doubt that he'll be a key part of the Mets' bullpen this season.
1. Bobby Parnell
If he's healthy after offseason neck surgery, which is a concern for the Mets, he'll be the closer. Unless Parnell is hurt, there is no competition for the closer's job, and if he can replicate what he did last year, the Mets should be in good shape at the back end of their bullpen.