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.