Who Will Be the Mets Lefty-Specialist in 2011?

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With the departure of Pedro Feliciano, the Mets are confronted with a question they haven’t needed to address since 2004–who will be their go-to left-handed reliever? Granted, while Feliciano has been used as more than just a lefty-specialist over the years, his stats have illustrated that “Perpetual” Pedro has been misued for quite awhile (righties own a .325/.417/.474 line against him since 2007). Regardless, now that Feliciano will don pinstripes in 2011, the Mets find themselves with only one lefty-handed pitcher (not counting Oliver Perez) in the bullpen–Pat Misch.

Misch has been quietly solid for the Mets in multiple pitching roles since 2009, but it’s possible he will have a more defined role in 2011. Considering the Mets penny-pinching approach so far this off-season, it appears that Misch will get a look to take on the lefty-specialist role in the bullpen. But despite being left-handed, is Misch really qualified for the lefty-heavy role?

In his career, starting in 2006 with the San Francisco Giants, Misch has been as effective (or ineffective, depending if you’re a “half-empty” type of person) against righties as he’s pitched against lefties. In fact, in Misch’s 193.6 career innings, righties have owned a .282/.332/.436 line against and lefties a .289/.337/.467 line against. Those eerily similar lines against suggest Misch is better suited for a starting role–albeit, a very mediocre starting role–but certainly not as a lefty-specialist. One could even make a “compeling” argument that he’s actually better versus righties than he is against lefties. Given Misch’s strange disposition, his future as a lefty-specialist looks grim.

However, just because Misch doesn’t dominate lefties, doesn’t mean he can’t be a viable part of the Mets bullpen in 2011. Given his experience in both starting and relieving roles, Misch could provide the Mets with a competent spot-starter or long-reliever–an asset many teams crave and are without. As much as it would make sense for the Mets to sign a lefty-specialist like Joe Beimel, Ron Mahay, or Will Ohman, financial constraints unfortunately could force the Mets to use the very hittable Misch exclusively against lefties in 2011.

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Tags: Beimel Ben Berkon Bullpen FA FA Lefty Relievers Free Agency Free Agent Joe Beimel Left-Handed Left-Handed Reliever Lefty Lefty Reliever Lefty-Specialist Long Reliever Mahay Mets Mets 2011 Mets Bullpen Mets Bullpen 2011 Misch New York New York Mets New York Yankees Ohman Oliver Perez Pat Misch Pedro Feliciano Pitchers Ron Mahay San Francisco Giants Spot Starter Will Ohman Yankees Yanks

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