After taking a look at the pride of Whitestone, our Year in Review series takes a look at the pride of Hattiesburg, Mississippi in Robert Carson. The lefty reliever spent some time with the Mets on a couple of different occasions. His first go-round was a very brief one, as he appeared in two games in May, then didn’t return to the club until August, eventually finding a home in the bullpen with fellow southpaw reliever, Josh Edgin.
How He Did on the Mound
Once he returned to the New York bullpen in August and September, Carson really showed off his potential and what he’s capable of bringing to the table for the organization in the near future. Primarily a two-pitch pitcher, he throws a 95 mph fastball and then dropping in an 84 mph slider to keep hitters off balance. Before his first call up to the Amazins bullpen, he spent his time in Double-A Binghamton, where he put together a a 1-2 record with a 4.79 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, with 37 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched.
After appearing in two games, throwing 3 innings and allowing 2 runs to score on 3 hits and 2 walks, he went back down to the minors, but instead was sent to the Triple-A bullpen of the Buffalo Bisons, where he fared much better in 10 appearances and 15.2 innings pitched. He compiled a 1.72 ERA and 1.40 WHIP with 15 strikeouts before the Mets decided to bring him back up to become part of the 1-2 lefty combo with Josh Edgin. Although his line doesn’t look pretty (4.73 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 5 K’s in 13.1 IP), he pitched very well before he was shut down for the season. Outside of a couple tough outings in September, his performance was stellar, with his most productive stretch coming in August, where he held opponents to a 2.25 ERA and a .200 batting average in 7 games and 4 innings pitched, while not walking a soul.
In my opinion, his best moment came on September 12th against the Nationals, as he entered in relief of Matt Harvey with a 1-0 lead intact, but the bases loaded with no one out. Carson came in and induced pop outs from Tyler Moore and Kurt Suzuki, then getting Steve Lombardozzi to fly out to end the inning and hold the lead for the time being.
Areas to Improve Upon
While Carson has a lot of potential to help fix a bullpen that needs a lot of help, the one thing he needs to work on is his control. For the type of reliever the Mets will need him to be, he must be able to enter the game and go right after hitters, much like he did a month ago against Washington. His BB/9 rate in the minors last season consistently hovered around 3.60; while the 2.70 ratio he put together in the Bigs is a remarkable improvement, it needs to get closer to the 2.30 mark if he’s going to be a situational lefty at times throughout the course of the season, coming in to bail fellow teammates out of jams.
Projected Role in 2013
Carson’s strong performance out of the ‘pen in the last two months of 2012 helped give Sandy Alderson some more internal options when it comes to rebuilding the bullpen, something that has been a yearly project for the Mets since 2008. There is a lot of potential between him and Edgin moving forward from the left side, and the front office can see it on the horizon. With Carson entering his age-24 season, the sky is the limit, and the organization wants to be sure he gets all the seasoning possible for him to become a successful reliever at the highest level. Alderson has mentioned he would like to bring in a veteran lefty reliever to complement Edgin for the time being; Carson should be getting an invite to Big League camp and an opportunity to make the squad, but I would anticipate him starting the year in Triple-A, being the first one up if more relievers are needed.
Contract Status and Trade Rumors
With him making his MLB debut this past May and not even spending half the season with the Mets, Carson is well under team control for the time being. There have been no trade rumors involving his name, but his arm and stuff are exciting enough to get him into the conversation to be involved in a package for some external talent. However, I feel that it’s doubtful we’ll see him in anything other than the Orange and Blue for the next few years.