May 21, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Scott Rice (56) pitches against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Mets Season In Review: Scott Rice


It was a feel-good story for the 31-year-old rookie.

After spending 14 seasons pitching in the minors, the Mets finally gave LHP Scott Rice his major league debut at the start of the season. Rice, a former first-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles, spent his professional career pitching everywhere from the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies organizations to various independent leagues.

How Rice Did on the Mound:

Rice could not have asked for a better start to his career, pitching a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts against the San Diego Padres on Opening Day.

The reliever continued his dominance as the season progressed. His only real bump in the road was a rough patch in the beginning of June, where his ERA jumped from 3.08 to 4.97. Although he at times struggled with control, Rice’s ability to get lefties out made him one of the most valuable and reliable pieces of the Mets’ bullpen.

Scott “Every Minute” Rice, as SNY’s Gary Cohen nicknamed him, was dependable out of the bullpen when not overused or exposed to too many right-handed hitters. He was the quintessential lefty specialist; in 37 innings, he had a 1.70 ERA against lefties with a 0.84 WHIP and 35 strikeouts. They hit a mere .174/.244/.223 against him.

Overall, in 51 innings this season, Rice pitched to a 3.71 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 27 walks. He was a ground ball specialist, as 60.3 % of the balls hit in play off of him were ground balls, according to FanGraphs. In fact, he only allowed one home run the entire year.

“He’s had an outstanding year, just an outstanding year,” manager Terry Collins said of Rice. “The job he’s done time and time again, where he’s come in in a big situation and got a big out. He should be very proud. [14] years in the minor leagues? He certainly did a good job for us.”

Unfortunately, on September 6th, Rice’s season was cut short due to injury. The pitcher, who at the time led the league with 73 appearances, underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia.

Areas to Improve Upon:

The key to Rice’s success is to simply not face right-handed batters. His 9.00 ERA and 2.71 WHIP against them, with batters hitting .362, are evidence that he should remain a LOOGY (left handed one out guy).

Projected Role in 2014:

Rice is under team control for 2014, and it is likely that he will make the team out of spring training, as he did this year.

The Mets have a history of wearing down their left-handed relievers, like Pedro Feliciano and Tim Byrdak, so it is essential that Rice not be overused next season. Sandy Alderson stated last month that he will be improving the depth of next year’s bullpen, which should ease Rice’s potential workload.

 

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