If Terry Collins‘ comments about Scott Rice possibly being used up and suffering from a tired arm are true, then the New York Mets will need to find another left-hander to pitch in the bullpen.
Rice was one of the Mets’ most effective left-handed specialists last year. He was a 31-year-old rookie, and left-handed hitters only had a batting average of .174 against him. When he had his sinker working, he was a dominant pitcher, as the pitch would dive down toward the feet of the opposing hitters. But his effectiveness may have been his downfall. Rice pitched in 73 games last year, and he was warming up a countless number of times as well. That’s a lot of throwing for a player who has never pitched that much before in his life.
Collins simply ran him into the ground because he was his only left-hander in the bullpen capable of getting outs. This is on Collins. Rice did what he was supposed to do. He went out and pitched every day he was asked, and for most of the time, he was successful. That’s coming back to haunt the Mets this year, and it’s one of the reasons why the bullpen has struggled so much in the first two weeks. Rice has pitched in six games this year, and he sits with a 13.50 ERA. His sinker isn’t sinking, and he is not a capable pitcher right now. Rice needs to take some time off. Maybe the Mets should even put him on the disabled list to allow his arm to strengthen, but it’s clear that something needs to be done.
It’s not as if the Mets have a better left-handed option in bullpen either. John Lannan used to be starting pitcher, so he is the long man in the bullpen, but he has an even worse ERA than Rice. Lannan’s ERA sits at 15.75. Collins likes to play the matchups with his bullpen, but if the two left-handers in the bullpen are struggling mightily, the team needs to look elsewhere for pitching.
At this time of the year, there aren’t exactly a bunch of options, so the Mets should look within the organization for left-handed relievers and two names stand out above the rest. The first is Jack Leathersich. He is a hard-throwing lefty who has posted a 3.51 ERA in his minor league career, and he has recorded 254 strikeouts in 148 innings pitched. He could bring a true power arm to the bullpen.
The other Mets prospect that could be brought up to the club is Adam Kolarek. He doesn’t throw as hard as Leathersich, but he may be more effective. He has had a sub-3.00 ERA in his five minor league seasons, and he excelled in 2013 for the Binghamton Mets. He finished with a 1.71 ERA on the year.
Fortunately for the Mets, their farm system is stocked with talented arms, but in order to avoid digging themselves into a hole they won’t be able to get out of, they may need to tap into that talent before they are truly ready.