The Mets bullpen was dreadful over the first three games of the season, but nearly spotless over the next three. One common thread during the six games the team has played so far has been the ineffectiveness of John Lannan.
Mar 31, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher John Lannan (32) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the tenth inning of an opening day baseball game at Citi Field. Washington Nationals won 9-7. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Heading into the season, there were two reasons why using Lannan out of the pen didn’t make much sense.
The first, was the fact that during his career, he had never before worked in relief.
The second, was that Lannan was being used as somewhat of a left-handed specialist – a role that he’s miscast in due to the fact that his splits against righties and lefties are close to identical (and worse against lefties over the last few seasons).
So far in 2014, Lannan has made just two appearances – and has been smacked around in both of them.
In his first appearance (on March 31st), Lannan served up a three-run homer to a right-handed hitter that put the game out of reach.
In his second appearance (on April 4th), Lannan allowed a two-run homer to a left-handed hitter – though the Mets held on for the win.
Like everything being analyzed this early, it’s important to be aware of the small sample sizes. However, there was never any reason to think that Lannan in the bullpen was a good idea.
The problem for the Mets, is that they don’t have any true left-handed specialists whose arrival and/or readiness seems imminent.
Still, if your second left-hander isn’t effective, carrying him for the sake of it is simply detrimental.
In the minors, the Mets have Vic Black, who should make his return to the big leagues as soon as he shows improved control. They also have others, such as Jeff Walters and perhaps Cory Mazzoni, who could be ready in short order.
Once the Mets have better bullpen options to turn to, Lannan’s time in the big league pen could be up.