The New York Mets search for a left-handed specialist might have been resolved last night, as the Mets are set to sign left-handed pitcher Taylor Tankersley to a minor league deal. Tankersley, who was a former 2004 first round pick by the Florida Marlins, was exclusively converted to a reliever by the 2006 season.
Originally raised as a starting pitcher, the hard throwing lefty enjoyed success at the major league level from 2006 to 2007 as a reliever, posting a combined 8 Wins, 3.46 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 9.7 K/9 IP, and a 5.6 BB/9 IP. Despite Tankersley’s ability to strike batters out, he simultaneously endured significant control issues (as is evident by his 5.6 BB/9 IP). Numbers aside, many Marlins execs felt Taylor had the make-up to close games
, but his on-going inability to control the strike zone and dominate right-handed hitters soon quieted the storm. To further stunt his development, Tankersley suffered a stress fracture to his throwing elbow, which cost him all of 2009.
The lefty bounced back in 2010, but posted a dismal 7.50 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 5.3 K/9 IP, and 5.3 BB/9 IP in 12 discouraging innings. However, a closer look at his splits suggest that he was actually serviceable against just lefties–posting a .200/.286/.433 line against with a 2.33 K/BB.
If Tankersley were to make Mets roster out of Spring Training, it would surely be as the left-handed specialist–a role left void by the departure of the trusted Pedro Feliciano. Since most relievers with any history of success have been signing for retail or above retail prices this off-season, the Mets might have found their cheap sources of lefty-outs in 2011.